A Statesboro resident and a graduate of Georgia Southern University will take over as commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety on Oct. 1.
Last week, Gov. Brian Kemp announced the retirement of Col. Chris Wright as commissioner and the state Board of Public Safety voted Lt. Col. Billy Hitchens as Wright’s successor.
Lt. Col. Hitchens currently serves as deputy commissioner and 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.
Hitchens began his career with the Georgia State Patrol as a cadet trooper in Sylvania. During the 1996 Olympic Games held in Atlanta, Hitchens was assigned to Centennial Park and received a Meritorious Service Award for his actions prior to and immediately after the bombing.
He earned an undergraduate degree from Georgia Southern and an MPA from Columbus State University. He is a graduate of the Georgia Law Enforcement Command College and the FBI National Academy.
Lt. Col. Hitchens and his wife, Angie, have two children and reside in Statesboro. He is the son of state Rep. Bill Hitchens of Rincon, who is a former state trooper and was once commissioner of the Department of Public Safety.
Rep. Hitchens serves as chairman of the House Subcommittee on Public Safety Appropriations and chairman of the House’s Working Group on Public Safety.