The Waverly Police Department will be getting a veteran of Morgan County law enforcement as their new Chief of Police. Jacksonville Police Lieutenant Chris Johnson has accepted the position. He takes over for James “Jame” Bettis, who had served as chief since 2016.
Johnson says that he came by the role organically through conversations with members of the Waverly community: “There was some mutual friends from the Waverly area that knew some of the Jacksonville officers, and with the former chief Jame leaving to take a new position with Morgan County, they put out some feelers saying if they wanted to know if anybody would be interested in the position. I had a co-worker contact me and said, ‘Hey, I think Waverly is looking for a chief, why don’t you go apply?’ and I did.”
Johnson has previously lived in the Pisgah and Franklin area before moving to Jacksonville several years ago. Johnson has served in law enforcement for half of his life, and ran for Morgan County Sheriff in 2018. Johnson began his career in the Sheriff’s Department and has been with the Jacksonville Police Department for the last 25 years, serving the last 10 as a lieutenant. Johnson says he’s looking forward to becoming somewhat of a teacher in his new position: “You never know what is going to come up and what’s available. I love Jacksonville. I love the Jacksonville Police Department, so it’s kind of bittersweet that I am leaving something that’s been a part of my life for over half of my life; but when you see an opportunity to try to influence an area, a community and the officers that they have and the new officers that they have coming on and just making sure that they are going to get proper training, proper guidelines, being influenced to make good decisions based on ethics and integrity then, I had to jump at it.”
Johnson says he’s not going to immediately jump in and change everything at the department: “I’m not going to go in and try to reinvent the wheel. That won’t be necessary. Waverly, I have a lot of friends and family in that area, so it’s a community that I’ve admired from afar. I’ve spent a lot of time there with my friends and family, so I know they’ve got some good businesses in the area. I know they’ve got good people in the area. Hopefully I can just come in and give them the type of service and policing that they deserve.”
Johnson will begin officially in the new position on Monday.