Smyrna to get new police chief

Smyrna Police Chief Joe Bennett interim Smyrna city managerIncoming Smyrna Police Chief Joe Bennett (photo by Haisten Willis)

Following a seven-year run as Smyrna’s Chief of Police, David Lee will retire on Friday, to be replaced by deputy chief Joe Bennett. The move was approved by a 7-0 city council vote Monday night.

“David has served this city for several years and has done a fantastic job,” said Smyrna Mayor Derek Norton. “He’s been a leader, particularly in community policing and in having a great relationship between the department and the community.”

Lee has been police chief for exactly seven years, beginning in February 2013. He spent 31 years with the Marietta police department before that, rising from patrol officer to deputy chief. Lee, who grew up in west Cobb, also served three years in the U.S. Army Military Police Corps and was a law enforcement explorer in high school. He said he’ll spend more time with his family in retirement.

Retiring Police Chief David Lee with incoming Police Chief Joe Bennett (photo by Haisten Willis)

“It’s both joyful and sad at the same time, I’ve been doing this pretty much all my life,” said Lee. “It’ll be different, but a lot of good things are opening up and I’ll take a different direction. Most importantly I’ll be spending a lot more time with my five grandchildren. I like to think I don’t look that old, but I’m getting there. I’m excited, deputy chief Bennett will do a great job for the department and I think y’all have chosen the right person.”


His replacement also carries quite a resume. Bennett is a lifelong Smyrna resident with a bachelor’s degree from Reinhardt University, a Master’s from Columbus State and is working toward a doctorate in public administration from Valdosta State. He’s been with the Smyrna police department since 1995, and received applause from several officers in the audience when the unanimous vote was announced.

“We have great things in store,” said Bennett. “As Mayor Norton mentioned, I’m a lifelong Smyrna resident, I went to our local schools in Smyrna. [My wife] Mary and I have chosen to raise our children in this community. So it is my goal to keep Smyrna a safe place to live work and play for our citizens.”

Haisten Willis is a freelance writer who lives in Smyrna with his wife, daughter and dog. He holds a master’s degree in journalism from California State University, Fresno, serves on the board of SPJ Georgia and even rides a bike when time allows.