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THOMSON, Ga. () – The City of Watkinsville this week announced that Courtney Gale will begin serving as the new Watkinsville Police Chief in the new year.
Gale had been the previously served as a uniformed office for the nearby Athens Clarke Police Department from 1998 to 2017 and for the University of Georgia Police Department from 2017 to 2021.
In Thomson, Chief Gale’s force included 18 uniformed officers. She spoke out during public rallies about gun violence and illegal gun ownership in the community and urged the community to “stand up against violence” and for the public to “be our eyes, be our ears and help us get illegal guns off of the street.”
Her initiatives included establishing an anonymous tip line so that community members could report illegally owned firearms or suspicious activity, especially around area schools.
During her time in Thomson, she and her staff worked to secure grant funds for the purchase and operation of body-worn cameras to replace the department’s older cameras armed with aging technology – 17 new cameras for 18 of the Thomson Police Department’s uniformed officers. She said the new body-worn cameras would go toward building and retaining the trust of the community in order to ensure “those relationships flourish.”
Earlier this year, a Thomson Police Office, 40-year-old Angelika McDonald was arrested in June by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and charged with Violation of Oath and Tampering with Evidence after allegedly lying about being at a party within city limits in May while off-duty where five people were shot. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation determined that McDonald had lied about her participation in the party, which they said she’d left after the shooting to return home and change before responding to it.
The Region 7 G.B.I. Office in Thomson has picked up the majority of the shooting and murder investigations that occurred within the jurisdiction of the Thomson Police Department, which have included several high-profile cases this year.
Most prominent was the murder of 14-year-old Johnathan Thomas Johnson in November. Since then, the G.B.I. has arrested 18-year-old Dequadrez Walker of Thomson; 16-year-old Teyiceazhia “Pearl” Williams of Thomson; and 15-year-old Camerin McNair of Thomson All three have been charged with Felony Murder. Walker and McNair were also issued warrants for Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony and gang charges.
The investigation continues to be ongoing.
Gale’s first day as Watkinsville Chief of Police is slated for January 8th, 2024.
A spokesman for the Thomson-McDuffie County Government released the following statement:
“[Thomson Police} Chief Courtney Gale has submitted her resignation as the head of Thomson’s Police Department effective December 29.
“’Chief Gale has been an invaluable part of our police forces for a little mor than two years,’ said Thomson Mayor Kenneth Usry. ‘We wish Chief Gale the best as she returns home to protect and serve the residents of Watkinsville as their police chief. The City of Watkinsville is getting a tremendous police office, and we will miss her leadership and service to our community.’
“The City will be begin a search for her replacement immediately. In the meantime, Assistant Chief Robert Brown will serve as Interim Police Chief.”