Scott Ebner, finalist for the position of Glynn County police chief, has not added the word “y’all” into his vocabulary yet.
He has only been in the Golden Isles since March when he took over as the county’s public safety director after nearly 30 years as a top administrator for the New Jersey State Police. Ebner doesn’t want to act like something he’s not, he said.
“I don’t want to be disingenuous,” Ebner said with a chuckle during a round table discussion with county officials and the media on Thursday.
Being genuine will be a key asset in his mission to address issues at the department of morale, stability, leadership and public trust and to instill a clear vision for how the police department should operate, Ebner said. He is aware there are some things that need to be fixed and his goal is to use his more than 30 years of experience in law enforcement and as an administrator to get the department on the right track.
“To be effective and to succeed, I can’t come in with my mind made up,” Ebner said. “I have to be open-minded. I have to do a lot more listening than talking.”
And that is what he has been doing since stepping into the Glynn County public safety director’s position. In the past eight weeks, Ebner has already been on hand to see how major crimes are handled and the response to a massive industrial fire. He participated in the Hurrex hurricane preparedness exercise on Thursday morning.
“In this short period of time I’ve been fortunate to see the public safety apparatus of this county come together and work together,” Ebner said.
That experience will be a boon for him when he takes on the role of police chief, which he will perform while continuing his duties as public safety director.
To serve as chief, Ebner must complete a 16-hour online course on use-of-force training and firearms qualifications with the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council to become certified as an officer in this state. He said the course is being scheduled by the council for the next few weeks.
Glynn County Commission Chairman Wayne Neal, who was also at the roundtable discussion, said Ebner is the perfect man for the job because of his leadership skills and his ability to improve the pieces of the police department that need it.
“Scott has shown leadership skills. He’s shown what a people-person he is,” Neal said. “We didn’t know it at the time, but he was interviewing continuously. That helped us be very comfortable in naming him as the final candidate.”
Neal said the new chief must be able to bring the department together and eliminate factions that currently exist while working well with the other law enforcement agencies in the county.
He knows there are people in the community, like county commissioners Bo Clark and Sammy Tostensen who voted against approving Ebner as the finalist, who want the Glynn County Sheriff’s Office to handle day-to-day law enforcement countywide. Neal also is aware of the recent instability in police department leadership and other issues the department has faced.
Despite those things, Neal said the county still needs the Glynn County Police Department.
“I believe strongly Glynn County needs a separate police department (from the sheriff’s office),” Neal said.
Sheriff Neal Jump is a capable leader, he said, but instituting a change now would just mean more instability and transition. Neal said Ebner can provide that stability.
“This is a permanent position for as long as it takes to get the Glynn County Police Department back to where we want it to be,” he said. “It is imperative that we get this right.”
Ebner said he dealt with morale and cultural issues when a major in New Jersey.
“It’s something I feel I can come in and alleviate,” he said.
To meet that goal, Ebner said recruiting the right people is paramount. Recruiting will be a continuous mission for him, he said.
“The pool of people who are interested in public safety has shrunk in the last several years,” Ebner said.
The Glynn County Police Department has 102 police officers when two new recruits are counted. It is authorized for 132 and has another eight positions that a grant will pay for, bringing the total to 140 if fully staffed. Ebner believes that by finding the right people who truly want to serve their community, the Glynn County Police Department has a bright future.
Neal said Ebner has proven to be genuine in his desire to improve the professionalism at the police department and said he fits nicely with other new faces like Fire Chief Vincent DiCristofalo and Emergency Management Agency Director Andy Leanza as the commission works to make positive changes.
“That will help us focus on the police department,” Neal said. “I really believe with the team we’ve built, people are seeing a change. They’re seeing more positivity in Glynn County Government as a whole.”
The Glynn County Commission is expected to vote to approve Ebner for the chief’s job at its next regular meeting on June 1.