It was an emotional night for Police Chief Jeffery Cato and his department as family, friends and the city of West Point prepared to say their final farewell to their chief Friday evening at The West Point Depot.
“Today the city is losing a good man and a great representative,” West Point police Capt. Robert Fawley said.
Fawley said four values: integrity, professionalism, honor and making the right choices, led not only Cato’s career, but his life.
“The men and women at these tables, he has led them well. He has led them with honor and he has led them with respect,” Fawley said.
In his four years in West Point, Cato’s highlights included using $80,000 of seized funds to buy new equipment for the police department and raising over $200,000 for youth and seniors through Friends of West Point, an annual golf tournament he established in 2011.
Dozens more took to the microphone to praise and thank Cato for his dedication to the service and the community.
Cato and officer Jennifer Jones, special assistant to the chief of police, were emotional as she addressed his legacy in West Point.
“I have been dreading this day for a long time,” she said. “There are no words for what this man has done in my life.”
She spoke of his vision for a better community and his four years of action to make it happen.
Some spoke on his ability to lead by actions and set the bar for professionalism, while others shared how Cato was an inspiration to their personal lives.
Cato said the only word to describe his retirement is bittersweet, adding that the show of support from West Point has been overwhelming.
“I always wanted to have a positive effect on people. Based on their testimonies, I guess I did and that’s all I wanted to do,” he said.
Cato’s family also had kind words for his dedication to their lives.
Nephew Corey Cato said it was an honor to watch him touch the lives of West Point, serve the community and clean up the neighborhood.
“He’s a great leader and I look to follow in his footsteps,” he said.
Niece Quanta Cato added that he has been an inspiration to their family.
Members of agencies across the area came to say goodbye to Cato including representatives from police, Troup County Sheriff’s Office; LaGrange, Lanett, Valley and Dekalb police departments; and Georgia State Patrol.
“You were here for just a season, but it was a great season,” said West Point City Councilwoman Sandra Thornton. “We thank you for your leadership. We thank you for guiding the city and protecting each and every one of us.”