Beloved Hogansville native and police chief of six years, Moses Ector, will be leaving the city in May to take over his self-named law enforcement leadership academy at Atlanta Metropolitan State College.
“It was a very difficult decision because of the fact that this is my hometown and I care so much about the people and people I work with. It’s like I’m leaving my family,” said Ector. “But I think I’ve done everything I wanted to do and now I think it’s time for a younger mind to take over and take it to the next level.”
Before he began work at the Hogansville Police Department, Ector came with three goals for the agency: To become one of the most professional police departments in the area by gaining accreditation, to become community focused in working with the community and to take care of the senior population.
He did just that and more.
The Hogansville Police Department gained its accreditation last year, something Ector said he is most proud of.
“He volunteered to come out of retirement to help the City and police department with problems we were having,” said Mayor William Stankiewicz, who was city manager at the time and took part in the hiring of Ector. “We now have a certified police department, one of very few, and the smallest city in the state with certification. He took a police force that wasn’t very effective and turned it into such professionalism.”
Prior to his time at the HPD, Ector had worked for and retired from the Georgia Bureau of Investigations after 29 years, where he became the first agent to work an undercover operation in another country. He had worked at the Dekalb County Police Department for almost eight years after. He has been to several countries, including Israel and Botswana, as a law enforcement leader.
“For someone to have all the experience that he does and bring that leadership back to Hogansville and to the community has been great,” said City Manager James Woods, who said he formed an “instantaneous bond” with Ector, upon meeting him two years ago. “Not having any problems with the police department has been wonderful, with the city having to worry about other departments.”
Ector’s goal for the police department to become community focused has brought many changes to the city. Officers now become more interactive with local stores and business through daily visits, something Ector said he enjoys.
“I think this is a very important part of the community and you can’t be a police chief and not interact with the people,” he said. “This is one of the best parts I like about the job, the friendships and talking. We get to hear the problems and complaints first hand. If people don’t know you and you don’t know them there’s nothing you can do for them.”
Events hosted by the police department under Ector is something that the community looked forward to, said Chief’s Administrative Assistant Michelle Toth.
“People love the community events - the Easter egg hunt, police academy, pics with Santa, fruit baskets to elderly, trick or treating downtown, the community garden,” said Toth. “He’s always been very big on community involvement. I hope we stay as community focused as we are. Our community and police department have really grown together and that’s something that probably would have never happened if he were not here.”
Assistant Chief John Pearson, said he is most impressed with Ector’s implementation of the “Elderly Program.”
The program entails a list of elderly in the community that receives a visit at their home and a phone call each week from an officer.
“That’s something a police department doesn’t do,” said Pearson. “I couldn’t fathom somewhere like the Dekalb (County) police doing something like that,” said Pearson, who met Ector 25 years ago when Pearson worked for the Dekalb County Police Department. “The elderly look forward to those visits and it’s our way to make sure they’re OK.”
The concept stemmed from an incident when Ector’s godmother, who lived alone, was found dead in her home after three days.
“If we would have had the Elderly Program, some officer would’ve checked on her and known she was sick,” Ector said. “I started this program so that now, if you want your loved one contacted they can get on a list.”
Pearson also joked that many times Ector was the only one who could handle the citizen’s problems.
“People in Hogansville just love him so much,” said Pearson. “They would come up here with a problem and I would offer to help them, but they would say ‘No, I want “Mose,”’ Pearson said many people nicknamed Ector. “Nobody could fix their problem but Mose. I was thinking ‘Is there some kind of magic dust you sprinkle on people?’ People will have problems and they will come to the Moses, not to the City.”
Woods witnessed how the delivery of fruit baskets to the needy and seniors by the police department on Christmas has touched the community.
He recalled one of the recipients telling a city employee about the experience: “‘If I hadn’t have gotten that fruit basket, I wouldn’t have gotten anything,’” Woods recalled the woman stating. “They have served the community beyond their police needs but also physical needs.”
“The Christmas fruit baskets and vegetable garden (whose products are delivered to seniors throughout the year) we give them have been the most rewarding thing,” Ector said. “To be a police chief, you’ve got to care about the people that you serve.”
Ector has frequently extended help to others in need. Pearson recalled Ector volunteering to give a teen, unable to drive, a ride to work for several months and even drove to Grantville to deliver a heater to a woman.
“I was sitting in his office with him when a group of people had called Moses and said a woman did not have heat, and it was going to be a really cold night,” Pearson said. “Me and Moses drove to Grantville and bought the woman a heater with our own money, so she could have heat that night. He taught me that you have to have that kind of commitment to them because that’s the kind of leadership that was offered.”
Ector said these acts are a necessity for him.
“I can’t go to bed at night knowing someone else needs something that I can assure it with. And I refuse to do that,” he said.
Ector leaving the police department has been hard news for many.
“He’s one in a million,” said Toth through tears. “He’s been like my dad. It’s been great working with him. He’s so funny and so kind and we’re very close. I just hate to see him go.”
Pearson said that more than the City of Hogansville will be affected upon Ector’s departure.
“Hogansville is going to suffer a tremendous loss, but the loss is much greater than that,” he said. “Ector has been one of the greatest law enforcement executives in the country and the country will be affected as well.The impact he’s made on law enforcement has been worldwide.”
The incoming chief will have some “big shoes” to fill, said city officials.
“He’ll be a difficult man to replace,” said Stankiewicz. “He’s been instrumental because of his experience and expertise. He has obtained grants for the City and gained access to supplies for the City at primarily no cost to us. He’s not only a quality police chief but also a quality human being. I can’t say enough how much we’ll miss him.”
“If we had our wishes, the new chief would be just like Chief Ector,” Woods said. “He was one of a kind.”
Pearson who is considering applying for the position of chief, said he has had reservations, though his strong relationship with Ector and wanting to better Hogansville motivates him.
“How do you follow behind Moses Ector as chief of police?” he said. “The expectations are so high. If you’re going to follow Moses Ector you better bring your ‘A-game.”’
The city of Hogansville will be using the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police to help narrow the candidates for chief down to three applicants, according to Woods. Applications will be accepted through GACP through Feb.21 and the final three applicants will be brought before the city council and a public forum will be held with the candidates. Woods will then make a recommendation to the council on his selection and council will vote on who will fill the position.
Ector’s last day at the police department will be March 1, and he will be assuming the role of director of the Moses Ector Law Enforcement Leadership Academy at AMSC.
He says he will volunteer as a reserve officer twice a month at the police department and hopes that the incoming chief will continue the programs and events that he has implemented at the police department.