Lundy Working to Build Morale, Restore Public Trust at Guyton PD

Chief Kelphie Lundy is no stranger to the City of Guyton. In early May, he returned to the community where he once served as chief in what he says is an effort to finish what he started several years ago. But that effort has come with additional hurdles as the Guyton Police Department seeks to rebuild its image and the trust of the community.

The city’s police department spent the better part of the last four years as a black eye on the city as the previous administration and former chief suffered scandal after scandal, but those days are already in the past. Lundy says he’s already seen a change in both direction and morale. 

“I haven’t come back to a community of strangers. I’m in a community that really accepted me once before and I think they know I’m passionate about this job,” he said in an interview with TheGeorgiaVirtue.

This isn’t the first time Lundy’s taken on the job of rebuilding a police department either. In 2017, after he left Guyton, Lundy was hired as the Chief in Register not long after a revenue-centric police department left a sour taste in the mouth of the community. He served there for more than four years, until the city opted not to have a police force any longer. Following his departure in Register, Lundy worked as the warrant officer for Magistrate Court detached from the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office and part-time for the City of Springfield. 

When the position of chief opened up in the beginning of 2024, Lundy said he knew it was time to go back.

“Now is my opportunity to come back and show this community what I have to offer as a leader and all the great things this police department can be,” Lundy, who has been in law enforcement since 2000, said.

Dawn of a New Day at Guyton PD 

On Day 1, Lundy met with those already employed with Guyton PD to field concerns but also hear their vision for the agency – something he said was new to several of the officers. He said the structure he’s already sought to instill has been well-received and has even garnered a level of excitement about new plans for the agency.

Lundy said his main focus will be transparency, which he believes is one of the building blocks for restoring the public’s trust. “I want people to know what we do here, I want them to ask questions and give us feedback.”

Morale is another building block that Lundy holds in high regard. “I want them to come to work and be happy. The job is already stressful enough,” Lundy said. While the PD will rely on his leadership, he said isn’t planning on keeping those he supervises at arm’s length. 

“There’s no ‘I’ in team,” Lundy said, “but the team isn’t just Guyton PD. It’s the city, the community as a whole and it’s going to take all of us to get this back on the right track.” That will be easier, he said, with the full support of the city council – which is currently backing his plans to build a community-centered police department. His hope is that it will all come full circle and the police department, the citizens, and city officials will all be pulling in the same direction on what the Guyton Police Department should be.

Guyton PD Staffing

Since taking over, Lundy has been able to hire two new officers. As it stands now, Guyton PD employs Lundy, one lieutenant, an SRO (which remains a shared cost with the county school system), four officers, and a police clerk – for a total of eight employees. 

Looking ahead to the FY 2025 budget, which is not final and is still being drafted, Lundy said he has made only a few budget requests because he wants to ‘hold steady’ until he can better assess what the agency needs in terms of equipment and resources.

Still, he has asked that city council consider appropriating funds for two additional officers so that Guyton PD can work toward being the 24/7 agency it has sought to be for so long. While those positions come at an expense, Lundy said the hope is not only to improve response time, but to continue to provide a higher level of service to the community. 

With two additional officers, or ten PD employees total, the PD will operate on a model based off of Springfield PD which provides two 12-hour shifts from 5:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. with one swing shift in the middle from 2 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.. Lundy said the increase in staff will reduce overtime, which pays time and a half, and keep from having officers working back-to-back shifts when someone is out. 

“Right now, we’re just running off of fumes and we just don’t have much choice on scheduling right now,” Lundy said.

Since the agency is not currently 24/7, Lundy drafted a schedule to provide to 911 and the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office which lets the agencies know when Guyton PD is ‘on the clock’ and when the city needs assistance. Lundy said it helps everyone from dispatchers to deputies have the necessary information to do their jobs without disruption. While it isn’t always predictable, Lundy said his schedule – which forecasts staffing two months in advance – seeks to cover ‘higher volume’ times at the PD level while relying on the Sheriff’s Office to help fill the gaps. 

Lundy said he already has great working relationships with Rincon PD, Springfield PD, and, of course, the Sheriff’s Office, all of which will improve the level of service provided and resources available to Guyton residents. 

Additional Training & Policies 

Training will be an essential component of the Guyton PD’s operations under Chief Lundy. Under Georgia law, POST-certified law enforcement officers are required to obtain 20 hours of continuing education each year, but Lundy said the department will have officers exceeding that minimum requirement. 

Lundy assigned an officer who is already certified in training and the agency will host monthly training for officers in a room that has been converted into a training room. Lundy said that officer will also be responsible for keeping all of those records and making sure the PD maintaints all the appropriate documentation.

“I want training on the job and things they’re interested in and then, of course, firearms training. But I want training that involves the SOP (policy manual) so that we can all understand what is expected. There will be a baseline of training for everyone so everyone is on the same page.”

As it currently stands, Guyton PD is subject to the operational manual put in place by the previous administration, but Lundy said he plans to revise the policy manual over the next few months to be more digestible and clear for officers to understand. The current manual is several hundred pages long.

Additionally, Lundy said Guyton PD will participate in countywide law enforcement initiatives, whether it be for training, strategic planning, or simple networking to improve relationships. “I’ll be there when I need to be and we’ll send a representative when that’s appropriate. But we want an open line of communication for everything,” he said.

Visibility in the Community

In addition to the standard responsibilities, Lundy is also looking to engage with the community beyond the badge. He was tight lipped about the details, but said the community can expect to see the police department hosting events for the public in the coming months – as both an opportunity to learn about the agency but also get to know the officers on a personal level.

“We aren’t anything without the support of the community,” Lundy said. “This is the new Guyton Police Department and we want you all to be a part of it. I hope when people see an officer driving by, the officer stops to say hello and the citizens look forward to that.”

Lundy said what’s in the past will remain there and he’s looking forward to the great things ahead. “It didn’t get to this place overnight, but it’s a new day and we want to interact with our community. And I’m so ready for it, too,” he said.

Lundy, and his wife Shamonnica, are the parents to four children – a 24-year-old daughter, a 23-year-old son, a 19-year-old daughter, and a 14-year-old daughter. The Bulloch County native graduated from Statesboro High School in 1997 and went on to complete the Professional Management Program at Columbus State University and Chief School through the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council. He started with the Statesboro Police Department in 2000 where he remained until 2015.

Jessica Szilagyi

Jessica Szilagyi is Publisher of TGV News. She focuses primarily on state and local politics as well as issues in law enforcement and corrections. She has a background in Political Science with a focus in local government and has a Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia.

Jessica is a "Like It Or Not" contributor for Fox5 in Atlanta and co-creator of of the Peabody Award-nominated podcast 'Prison Town.'

Sign up for her weekly newsletter: http://eepurl.com/gzYAZT

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