Governor Brian P. Kemp announced Thursday that Colonel Chris Wright, Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety (DPS), is retiring following many years of distinguished service in state law enforcement.
“On behalf of all Georgians, Marty, the girls, and I want to thank Colonel Wright for the incredible job he has done as head of the Department of Public Safety,” said Governor Kemp. “During times of civil unrest and the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic, Colonel Wright demonstrated resilience, foresight, and strength that has led to reductions in crime and safer communities all across Georgia. He has led as he served – with distinction – and we wish him and his family well in this next chapter.”
Governor Kemp also announced that the Board of Public Safety unanimously voted today to approve Lt. Colonel William “Billy” Hitchens to serve as the next DPS Commissioner and Colonel of the Georgia State Patrol, effective October 1. The Board also unanimously confirmed Major Kendrick Lowe to serve as Lt. Colonel of the Georgia State Patrol and Deputy Commissioner for DPS, also effective October 1. Lt. Colonel Joshua Lamb will continue his service as a valued member of the senior DPS leadership team and will be promoted to Assistant Commissioner.
“Keeping Georgians safe will always be my top priority. My entire family is thankful we will continue to have great leadership at the Department of Public Safety and overseeing the Georgia State Patrol,” said Governor Kemp. “As someone who has dedicated his career to this agency, Marty, the girls, and I are grateful for Lt. Colonel Hitchens’ willingness to step into this new role. We’re also thankful for Major Lowe and Lt. Colonel Lamb’s further service. All three of these men are dedicated to the job, to setting high standards for our state law enforcement, and most of all to protecting their fellow Georgians. We are thankful for that ongoing commitment and for the sacrifices of their families.”
Lt. Colonel William “Billy” Hitchens, III currently serves as Deputy Commissioner for the Department of Public Safety. He is also the Director of Field Operations, overseeing the Georgia State Patrol, the Motor Carrier Compliance Division, the Capitol Police Division, the Headquarters Adjutant, and the Special Operations Adjutant.
Prior to this appointment, Lt. Colonel Hitchens served as Major and South Adjutant. He began his career with the Georgia State Patrol as a Cadet Trooper in Sylvania and graduated from the 69th Trooper School in 1995. During the 1996 Olympic Games held in Atlanta, Lt. Colonel Hitchens was assigned to Centennial Park and received a Meritorious Service Award for his actions prior to and immediately after the bombing. Lt. Colonel Hitchens was also selected to serve on the committee which developed the department’s mission statement and core beliefs.
Lt. Colonel Hitchens earned an undergraduate degree from Georgia Southern University and an MPA from Columbus State University. He is a graduate of the Georgia Law Enforcement Command College and the FBI National Academy.
Lt. Colonel Hitchens and his wife, Angie, have two children and reside in Statesboro.