Called to serve
Winder police promotes second major as it works toward national accreditation

WINDER - The Winder Police Department now has two majors for the first time in its 95-year history, according to Maj. Robert Schuenemann.

Clifford Poole was promoted earlier this month from captain to major, one rank below that of police chief, at an annual salary of $61,090.

The new position was created in response to increased demand on the department, and to push forward the department's efforts to earn national accreditation, Chief Stanley Rodgers said.

"The department has grown so much, we needed to create an administrative and support division," Rodgers said.

Poole will oversee patrol-related activities and Schuenemann will supervise administrative and support services.

The Winder Police Department earned state accreditation in 2002 and recertified in July for another five years.

To earn national accreditation would put Winder's department in an elite group, Dorsey said. It would also lower the department's liability insurance costs, although the amount by which it would drop could not be pinpointed.

The Winder Police Department closed its jail in August, a move City Manager Bob Beck expects will save Winder taxpayers $114,400 each year.

Poole, 46, began his career with the Winder Police Department in 1985 and came up through the ranks, specializing in drug enforcement. For 22 years, he worked his way up and, as captain, served as the criminal investigations commander.

"Undercover drugs are my passion," Poole said. "They're a nuisance and cause crime and petty theft."

Poole was instrumental in leading a 2003 drug bust in which 80 people were arrested on a total of 200 warrants served, said Lt. Dennis Dorsey, spokesman for the Winder Police Department.

In drug work, things don't always wrap up so neatly. In the 1980s, Poole was on loan to the Albany Police Department as an undercover agent when a drug buy went bad.

"I was making a buy and the guy tried to rob me," Poole said.

Nevertheless, Poole looks forward to getting back out on the road with patrol officers.

"We have four shifts and I am going to ride around with the officers and make sure everybody is doing the same thing," Poole said. "That's part of the CALEA (Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies) requirements. The road was my best fit, and I am eager to get back."

A native of Jefferson, Poole served in the U.S. Army as a truck driver from 1978 to 1984, then served in the Georgia National Guard from 1984 to 1988. He is on the Tree House's board of directors.

"I got an urge for police work. I felt like I was called into law enforcement," Poole said.