By Dave Russell
Sylva’s new police chief is moving 103 miles southwest from Boone, as the crow flies, and bringing with him 21 years of law enforcement experience.
Chris Hatton, 44, will move Aug. 12 into the corner office reserved for the chief , taking over from Tammy Hooper, who retired.
Hatton grew up in the Lenoir area, attending West Caldwell High School. His wife, Glennis, grew up in Asheville, attending T.C. Roberson High School before moving on to A-B Tech and Western Carolina University.
The couple has two sons. Koby, 21, is a telecommunicator at the Boone Police Department, where he will stay when his parents move. Christian, 24, lives in Lenoir.
For the past 13 years, Glennis Hatton has worked as a Caldwell County Department of Social Services worker. She previously served as a county probation officer for about five years. She’s seeking work in this area, Chris Hatton said.
On his days off, he plans to be somewhere near the water.
“My passion, when I am not working, is being with my family, of course,” Hatton said. “But other than that, being on the water. Any kind of water. We have a 30-foot boat and we spend a lot of time on it.”
The search for a new chief took almost three months, Sylva Manager Paige Dowling said. Interviews were conducted on July 19 in front of a panel of law enforcement officers and managers from across Western North Carolina.
The panel recommended Hatton, based on his experience, education and background in law enforcement, Dowling said.
His starting salary will be $69,000, she said.
Hatton has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Lees-McRae College and a master’s in justice administration from Methodist University, according to his resume.
He began his career as a patrol officer with the Lenoir Police Department, from 1998-2001.
He was recruited to a detective sergeant position with the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office in 2001 and was promoted to sergeant of the Investigations Division in two years.
He worked as the supervisor of the Rolesville Police Department from 2007-2011, overseeing a 10-officer department and responding to emergency and non-emergency calls for service.
He joined the Boone Police Department in 2011 as a sergeant in the criminal investigations division and was voted officer of the year. He was promoted to lieutenant in two years, the position he has held until coming to Sylva.
Along the way, Hatton has trained at the FBI’s Command Leadership Institute and Leadership Institute.
He is currently participating in a 500-hour North Carolina Justice Academy community policing certification program.
In Sylva, the police chief reports to the town manager.
“I am thrilled Mr. Hatton accepted the position,” Dowling said. “He will be a wonderful addition to the community, and I look forward to working with him.”
Hatton will oversee a 15-officer department and a budget of about $1.2 million. The department is charged with protecting the town’s 2,600 residents, business owners, visitors and others.