When former DeKalb County Police Chief Eddie Moody retired from his job in 2004, he said that if he ever put on another police uniform it would be for DeKalb County.
That all changed when council members and residents of his home town of Lithonia asked him to consider becoming the new chief of police for the Lithonia Police Department.
“After some consideration I… [decided] to give it another shot,” he said. “One of the goals a lot of people have is to be able go back to the place where you grew up and do something. And I felt like what a better way whenever I end my career is to end it having done some work at home.”
The Lithonia City Council selected Moody as its new police chief in December 2012. Moody, 58, was the DeKalb County Police chief from 2001-04 and the first Black to head the county police department.
He was one of 22 applicants for the Lithonia police chief job. Other applicants included Melvin Douglas, an investigator for the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office and Xavier Todd, who was the acting Lithonia police chief before Moody was selected.
Moody replaces Washington Varnum, the city’s previous acting police chief, who was relieved of his duties after a 2010 police certification revocation was upheld leaving him with no arrest powers.
Moody brings 30 years of law enforcement experience to the city, working his way up from a clerk typist in the county’s police department to become the police chief. After retiring from the county, Moody worked with Altegrity, a commercial provider of background investigations for the federal government, as an account executive and special investigator for several years.
Even while retired, Moody knew he still had policing in his blood.
“I was born to be a cop,” he said.
As DeKalb’s police chief, Moody managed more than 1,000 officers. He now manages 30 officers, including reserve officers. Even with the smaller numbers, Moody said it is still a challenge to manage.
“Crime is crime,” he said. “Sometimes it can be tough because you don’t have the resources and you don’t have the funding.”
Despite the challenges, Moody is dedicated to making the Lithonia Police Department better and making the city one of the safest in America. He said there are two issues that the department is addressing: officer safety and equipment.
“There [have] to be enough people covering the streets,” he said. “The world, in my opinion, hasn’t gotten any safer. There are a lot of things that happen and we got to keep [our officers] safe.
“We have to provide the officers with the necessary equipment so that they can effectively do their job,” Moody said.
Moody said the department is also working on becoming a state certified police department and ways to increase funding.
“We’re looking at creative ways to help the department and primarily the city in terms of a revenue source so that we can begin to do the things that we know are needed to advance this police department,” he said
While with DeKalb County, Moody created the Junior Police Academy, which has been recognized by the National Association of Counties and the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. Moody said he and Lithonia Mayor Deborah A. Jackson have had discussions on how to get the young people involved in the city.
“Being as small as it is we hope to find some program that we can put together using the dreams of young people,” he said. “For those kids who had some dream of being in law enforcement [we have to] help them understand how to become better citizens.”
In the next five years Moody said he hopes to have provided some consistency and leadership to get the department on the straight path to where they are going.
“Part of that includes having enough people so that we are safe and secure, not only eternally for our officers but for the community’s safety,” he said. “We hope to have a department that has a very solid, communicative policing concept so that we get the support, the relationship with the community so that we not only do we feel a part of the community, but the community feels a part of this police department.”