“It has been an absolute pleasure to work alongside Chief Watson during my tenure with the city,” City Manager Brian Muenger said. “He is a man of great character and the city is fortunate to have benefited from his service and commitment for the last 28 years.”
In a letter to the council, Muenger said Watson will take over as head of security for Talladega Superspeedway after retiring from the city’s service.
“It goes without saying that filling this position will be both difficult and vastly important,” Muenger wrote in the letter to the council. “I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Chief Watson and I have great respect for him, both personally and professionally. … At this juncture, I have not decided on an interim choice for the position, and given the length of time until the chief departs, it is not immediately necessary.”
Muenger said he will probably start advertising the position next week.
Watson said he planned to retire at the end of the year anyway when the position at the speedway opened up. “I made the decision to start Aug. 1, and I will stay on until then to help with the transition. I owe this city a lot, and I will do whatever I can to work with the manager and make sure it is a smooth transition.”
Watson first worked for the Talladega Police Department as a patrolman in 1985 and held a variety of positions since then. He was a lieutenant in the investigative division in June 2000 when he was appointed interim chief, after Chief Joe Hare was placed on paid administrative leave following various controversies. Watson was sworn in as permanent chief 11 months later.
The Greater Talladega Area Chamber of Commerce voted Watson Public Servant of the Year for Talladega in January, citing his work in securing take-home vehicles, 12-hour patrol shifts, improved computer networking, funding for the purchase of essential equipment for officers, car cameras, Tasers and laptop computers. He has served on the Alabama Chiefs of Police Association, the E911 Board and the County Ambulance Board. He also initiated the lengthy process of getting the department accredited by the Commission for Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies, or CALEA, and more recently completed a grant application to provide two school resource officers for the Talladega City School System.
Contact Chris Norwood at email@example.com.