It's official. The Opelika Police Department has a new chief. It was the first day on the job for
new Opelika Police chief John McEachern. He was sworn-in Monday morning at the Municipal Courthouse. The new department head has plans to strengthen ties with the community.
Out of 52 applicants, Mayor Gary Fuller said McEachern was a stand-out with 24 years of FBI experience, and more than a decade with the Opelika Police Department. "He's going to do a great job. He'll be an excellent chief," said Mayor Fuller.
"It feels great. I'm excited," said McEachern. The new police chief was sworn in, at the start of his first day of work. He was embraced by supporters and spent part of the day getting situated in his office and meeting staff. "I've had several come to me and tell me they're excited about coming to work for me and I told every one of them, they don't work for me, we all work together," said McEachern.
Mayor Fuller says it's a rare occasion. It's been 22 years since the department had a new head. In February, Fuller asked former Chief Tommy Mangham to retire, with 46 years of service to Opelika PD under his belt. McEachern worked under Mangham for several years. "He did an outstanding job as did the chiefs of police before him. I just hope that I can step up to the plate and do the same job. One that the citizens of Opelika will be proud of the police department," said McEachern. With a background of service from Opelika, Chief Mceachern says he's gotten a lot of support so far. He's also putting emphasis on plans to have a more community oriented police department.
"I've gotten phone calls, emails, text messages...and I know with the citizens support we can get the job done here. We're going to serve the citizens of Opelika with professionalism," said McEachern. "Glad to have him and look forward to great things," said Mayor Fuller.
McEachern says Opelika is home, but he's still getting acclimated to the department, so don't expect any 'drastic' changes too soon. The new chief says he wants to hear from citizens and he's pushing an open door policy.
The police department has the highest budget of any office in the city. Opelika has dedicated more than $8.3 million to the department for fiscal year 2013.