The town of Register took steps Friday to form a new police department by hiring a police chief after having been without a department since December 2015. Kelphie Lundy is the town's new chief, said Mayor Barbara Rushing.
Lundy, most recently chief of Guyton and having worked with the Statesboro Police Department for 14 years, will be part time, she said.
In December 2015, Register's Town Council voted to suspend its police department following a series of issues involving police expense questions, unpaid fines to the state and what Rushing, then mayor pro tem, said were mistakes made due to poor record keeping.
The chief at the time was former Rocky Ford police Officer Tom Kile, who is now deceased.
"Several months ago, we voted to renew our police department," Rushing said on Monday. "But then, the town hall burned."
The town hall was moved to another location on the town's main street, and the Register Town Council has recovered from the loss and is ready to get back to having a police presence, she said.
Contrary to what some believe, Register does need a police department, she said.
Within the past several months, the small town has experienced three burglaries and a car theft, and just over a year ago, a methamphetamine lab was discovered near the town limits, she said.
"It isn't just tickets," Rushing said. "It (crime) is here."
In order to revive the department, the council first had to hire a chief.
"We were lucky to get Kelphie," she said.
Registration, licensing and all the red tape are being handled now, and hopefully, the department will be in full swing by Aug. 1, she said.
In the meantime, Lundy will be working on securing permits and certifications and calibrating equipment such as tag readers and radar guns. But soon, he will be working as chief, which means he will be patrolling and investigating crime as well as stopping those who violate traffic laws.
Plans are to have up to three part-time officers, including Lundy. None will be working at the same time. Lundy will work 24 hours a week, and officers will work around 48 hours in total during the week, she said. None of the officers will be salaried, and there are no benefits.
Lundy started his career with the Statesboro Police Department, where he worked six months before moving to work at the Effingham County Sheriff's Office. He returned after a year and a half to the SPD, where he worked 14 years before being hired as the director of public safety for Guyton, where he served two years.
Lundy also ran for seat 2A on the Bulloch County Board of Commissioners in the 2016 election. Curt Deal won that seat.
Rushing said she looks forward to having Lundy serve as police chief.
"I feel like he will do a good job," she said. "I have had only positive feedback. Everybody speaks highly of him."
Lundy, who has four children and is engaged to be married in December, has been living in the Bulloch County area 39 years.
"I feel absolutely great about this," he said on Monday. "I am ready to do wonderful things with the community and get the police department back up and running, making progress. It feels good to be back in the Bulloch County area."
Lundy said he plans to be transparent and work closely with the community.
Lundy is a graduate of Statesboro High School and also a graduate of the Georgia Chiefs Association. He is currently enrolled with Columbus State University, where he will receive a certificate in June 2018 for completing the Georgia Law Enforcement Professional Management Program, known as PMP.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.