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Longtime police chief retires

July 08, 2009
For anyone old enough to remember the old "Gunsmoke" show on television, it would have been almost unthinkable for Marshal Matt Dillon to have ridden off into the sunset, leaving the people of Dodge City to fend for themselves.

Georgetown Police Chief Larry Potts
That's how many people in Georgetown feel about losing their chief law enforcement officer of so many years, Larry Potts, who is retiring early this month.

"I'm surprised that he's leaving," Gary Smith, former town council president, said. "And I certainly hate to see him go. He is one of the best town marshals anyone could have. I'm the one who put him in that job years ago. He's a class act, and he did a wonderful job for Georgetown."

Potts, 63, started training to be a police officer in 1982 after spending several years in the automotive business.

"In the spring of 1983, I came here to Georgetown as a reserve officer," Potts said. "That fall, I hired on as a full-time officer. I worked 92 days and was laid off due to a lack of funds in the town's coffers. In 1984, I went to the police academy for training and graduated in December of that year. Then, I came back to Georgetown, and I've been here 27 years."

Potts was raised in Fern Creek, Ky., but came to Indiana in 1977.

"I swam across the Ohio River and got too old to swim back," Potts joked. "But I always wanted to be a police officer, and I've enjoyed working with the folks in Georgetown. The people here have been good to me."

When Potts came to Georgetown, the police department had only two cars. And they had more than 170,000 miles on them.

"We have five cars now, and the department has grown with the town," Potts said. "When I first came here, we had 11,000 cars a day passing through town. Now, we have 24,000 cars a day coming through here. That kind of growth makes this job a lot harder. But we had community policing here long before President Clinton had the idea.

"This job is about helping people. We see a lot of people with domestic problems. I was a domestic violence instructor for years. Laws weren't structured to help those people, but there's a lot police officers can do to help. Some people say it's not their job to help those folks, but if it's not their job, whose job is it? Most domestic violence victims feel alienated. They live in fear. I've even took them to see an attorney because they were so afraid that they were in hiding. But I've never hesitated to help anyone who needs it."

Dean Hammersmith, a Georgetown resident and former council member, agreed.

"Larry Potts is a friend to everyone," Hammersmith said. "He's really going to be missed. He's a person anyone can talk to, and he will actually listen. Larry checks on the elderly around town, and he's really good with kids. It seems like he has a way with them, and the kids like him. I've known Larry for many, many years. He's just an all-around good guy."

Potts has plans to keep busy after retirement. The job as police chief has forced him to put a lot of his life on the rear burner for years.

"I have hobbies, and it will be nice to get some rest," Potts said. "But I've really missed having time to do things. I used to fish a lot, and I'd be perfectly happy if someday they find me dead along the Blue River with a fishing pole in my hands. But seriously, I plan on relaxing, and taking my life back.

"My best friend of 37 years has cancer and I want to spend time with him," Potts continued. "He lost his hair recently when he went through some treatments and now he's reluctant to go out anywhere because he says he looks like a freak. So, I had my head shaved, also. He's a great friend, more like a brother."

Potts, who lives near Georgetown, plans to stay in the area.

"I have three kids and seven grandkids," he added. "That's why I'm hanging around. I look forward to having time for the grandkids. I lost out on some of their life. The oldest just graduated from high school. But putting in over 50 hours a week as a police officer, time gets away from you."

"I don't know what endeavors he has planned from here on out, but we certainly wish him the best," Smith said. "He's been Georgetown's friend."

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