First police chief in MCSD history on track to being hired. Here’s his background.

Ten months after the Muscogee County School Board approved establishing a police agency in the Muscogee County School District, Superintendent David Lewis has recommended to the board the person who would be the department’s chief.

Grep Arp, the chief investigator for the district attorney’s office in the Appalachian Judicial Circuit for the past six years, is Lewis’ choice to lead the new agency. The board is scheduled to vote on the appointment during its March 18 meeting.

According to his resume, Arp previously was chief of the East Ellijay Police Department (2003-12), a lieutenant deputy sheriff and a school resource officer in Fannin County (1998-2003), a senior investigator for the DeKalb County Juvenile Solicitor’s Office (1995-98) and a patrol officer for the Blue Ridge Police Department (1987-88 and January 1991-June 1991). He earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Georgia State University in 1995 and a master’s degree in public administration from Columbus State University in 2010.

“Seven or eight” candidates were interviewed for the police chief’s position out of the “17 or 18” applicants, MCSD chief human resources officer Kathy Tessin told the Ledger-Enquirer.

In May 2018, the board upgraded Lewis’ recommendation to establish the police agency. He had recommended boosting MCSD’s current security staff from 17 part-time officers to 10 full-time officers, including one for each high school, seven part-time officers and three additional positions. The board’s majority expanded that recommendation, calling for a full-time officer at each middle school. So the board approved adding $1,692,467, including $892,467 in start-up costs, to MCSD’s current $2,133,871 budget for security.

But no officers will be hired until the department’s police chief is hired, Tessin said.

District 6 representative Mark Cantrell was the only board member to comment about the recommendation during the work session.

He expressed concern about the population of Ellijay (about 1,700 and East Ellijay about 570 in 2017, compared to 31,859 students in MCSD as of October 2018). The police department he would lead for MCSD, Lewis said, is “commensurate” with the department he led for East Ellijay, “roughly the same number of officers, 18 or 20.”

Cantrell also said he is disappointed Lewis select someone who isn’t from Columbus. Lewis reminded Cantrell that the board directed him to seek someone who has experience similar to what this job requires.

Baker students spent an evening of dodge ball and basketball with public safety officers from the Muscogee County Marshal's Office, the Sheriff's Department, Fire & EMS and the District Attorney's office

Mark Rice, 706-576-6272, @MarkRiceLE.

Ledger-Enquirer staff writer Mark Rice covers education and other issues related to youth. He also writes feature stories about any compelling topic. He has been reporting in Columbus and the Chattahoochee Valley for more than a quarter-century. He welcomes your local news tips and questions.