After Dekmar’s retirement, Dale Strickland takes over as interim police chief

Published 9:00 am Thursday, February 9, 2023

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For the first time since 1995, there’s a new person leading the LaGrange Police Department, even if it’s currently in an interim capacity.

When longtime police chief Lou Dekmar retired last week, Dale Strickland traded in his status as a captain at the LPD and became the interim police chief.

Strickland began his career in law enforcement in 1997 as a police officer.

“I was hired here, somewhat uniquely, as a lateral for a detective’s position. When I came in, I spent a few months here working as an investigator assisting other detectives with specific crimes that they were working on,” Strickland said. “I had a background at the time working as a probation officer with Troup County Juvenile Court and had worked there for three years.”

Strickland has been with the LPD for 26 years and has received over 5000 hours of post-credit training.

“I have attended and completed the Georgia Command College and received a master’s degree as a part of that program. I have also attended and completed the FBI National Academy and other management training over the years,” Strickland said.

“Currently, I’m enrolled in a new program that was put together by the Georgia Municipal Association and the Georgia Chiefs of Police for management staff and new chiefs who want to apply for training.”

Strickland said he plans to apply for the police chief position when it’s posted.

As the interim police chief, Strickland said he has big shoes to fill but feels confident in his ability to lead.

“I’m not Chief Dekmar, but I’ve worked for him my entire career here, and I believe that we have very good people that work for us in this agency,” Strickland said.

“We are a nationally accredited — state accredited agency, and I plan to keep all of those things in place. My goals are to make sure the police department runs as smoothly as it has for the last 28 years.”

In his time working with Dekmar, Strickland said he has learned many valuable lessons he intends to take with him as he serves as the interim.

“There’s a laundry list of things I’ve learned while working with Chief Dekmar such as ethical decision making, accountability, having credibility within the community, building relationships and trust within the community and so much more,” Strickland said.

“He taught us the police agency is only a part of our community and for us to be successful in deterring and solving crime, we need to have relationships with our community. We can’t be successful without our community, and I know that requires our community to trust us.”

Strickland said he plans to take those lessons from Dekmar and work to build community relationships.

“Community relationships are very important, and it’s all of our responsibility to build those relationships,” Strickland said.

“I think we would get the bang for our buck in getting out there and speaking with the folks in the community, understanding the needs, and how they think we can put programs together that would better serve them. We’ll put their ideas and our ideas in policing and try to come together, a collaborative group to successfully build programs that will work.”

Strickland said his goal as the interim police chief is to serve the community and the people that work in the police department in the best way he can.

“I may not lead the exact way as Chief Dekmar, but I have grown in my career under his leadership, and I expect that you will see things that are similar to what Chief Dekmar has done here in his time at the police department,” Strickland said. “If I’m appointed police chief, then that’s the kind of leadership you can expect to see. My goal is to continue succeeding very similarly to where we’ve been.”