According to a release from the City of Lufkin and the Lufkin Police Department, Gerald Williamson, current Lufkin police chief will soon be promoted to the newly created position of Director of Public Safety.  This move will be effective June 6, 2018, and is being done to further the ongoing goal of developing a model approach to public safety and to prevent, better protect from, respond to, and recover from man-made and natural disasters or major emergencies.

Williamson will head a public safety team consisting of Ted Lovett, current Lufkin Fire Chief, David Thomas, current Lufkin Assistant Police Chief, who will be promoted to Chief of Police, and an emergency management team made up of current key City employees. This new position will be responsible for overseeing a strategic role in public safety engagement and a 21st century integrative approach between police department, fire department and emergency management services. The primary focus will be on better preparing the respective departments to protect and defend the citizens of Lufkin in a world that is constantly changing and facing growing threats.

City Manager Keith Wright noted, “The City of Lufkin is fortunate to have outstanding police and fire departments. The new Director of Public Safety will be charged with adapting the missions and capabilities of the fire, law enforcement and emergency management services personnel to prepare, train, and respond effectively in a joint capacity to meet the developing nonconforming threats to citizen safety, especially the threats of the active shooter and fire as a weapon.” Wright added, “The threats facing communities today necessitate an integrated public safety response. A failure to integrate Fire/EMS and law enforcement capabilities for these imminent threats, may not only endanger civilians, but first responders as well. We want to be the model for small to midsize cities in this effort.”

Williamson has been police chief for the Lufkin Police Department since 2014, and has over 33 years of law enforcement experience. His career path demonstrates extensive experience in both line and supervisory positions, and he is experienced in budget preparation, strategic planning, and operations management. He served in Lufkin PD’s Patrol, Narcotics, SWAT, Criminal Investigations, and Support Services sections prior to being appointed Assistant Chief of Police in 2009. He holds a Master Peace Officer Certification and has over 4,500 hours of law enforcement and management training. His law enforcement and management training were completed at Texas A&M in College Station and Stephen F. Austin in Nacogdoches, and through the International Chiefs of Police; his certifications include that of Texas Certified Public Manager and IACP Leadership in Police Organizations.

Regarding other changes related to a comprehensive public safety effort, City Manager Wright said, “Chief Williamson is a highly respected and imminently qualified leader. He is a perfect choice for this new position.” He further stated, “As part of this cutting-edge approach to public safety, I am also very pleased to announce the promotion of David Thomas to Chief of Police in the Lufkin Police Department. Chief Thomas’ law enforcement experience and leadership skills have made him stand out in the department and I cannot think of a person better qualified to succeed Chief Williamson and continue the proud tradition of the Lufkin Police Department.”

Thomas began his law enforcement career in 1989 as a patrolman for the Lufkin Police Department. He attended Southwest Texas State University and graduated from the East Texas Police Academy. During his 28 years of service to the citizens of Lufkin, Thomas has held positions in Lufkin PD’s Patrol, Community Policing, Criminal Investigations, and Special Services sections. His assignment to multiple sections of the Department has provided him a wide knowledge base concerning all aspects of the departmental operation. He was appointed Assistant Police Chief in 2014 and will make a seamless transition to the head of the department. In addition to Thomas’ duties for the Lufkin Police Department, he is an Adjunct Instructor through Texas State University where he teaches Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training to officers around the country. This position and experience will prove invaluable to the new public safety effort to meet and respond to threats to citizen safety in Lufkin. Thomas and his wife Crystal are expecting their third child to go with their two boys, Garrett and Garrison.

Ted Lovett, promoted from Battalion Chief to Fire Chief in 2011 after a long career as a firefighter and leader in the Lufkin Fire Department, will continue in his current position. Lovett leads an experienced and full-service department in providing fire suppression rescue, emergency medical services with paramedics and ambulances, and a hazardous materials team, all of which will be critical in the newly envisioned public safety integration. According to City Manager Wright, “Chief Lovett leads a highly trained department that must respond at a moment’s notice not just in the City of Lufkin, but countywide in life-saving EMS situations. Our new integrated public safety program will look very closely at how to better support the fire department in this effort and better serve our citizens in a wide variety of threatening circumstances.”

Effective in June, the various departments (fire, police and emergency management), although continuing to function as separate specialties and departments, will work together under the leadership of Public Safety Director Williamson to integrate their efforts to prevent, better protect from, respond to, and recover from natural disasters and major emergencies.

“The vision of the City Council and the expertise of the City’s public safety personnel has established Lufkin as a safe community and leading city in East Texas. We believe that this new integrated approach will only improve public safety in a complex and increasingly dangerous world,” said Mayor Bob Brown. “Our citizens will be proud of this new innovation from the City of Lufkin.”