New Bonifay police chief sworn in amidst other political changes

Now former-interim Chief Johnny Whitaker took oath at Monday's city council meeting, a month after being appointed to the role after the firing of Jimmy Macon.
Published: Sep. 25, 2023 at 10:43 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BONIFAY, Fla. (WTVY) - At Monday’s city council meeting, interim Bonifay police chief Johnny Whitaker was sworn in as chief.

Whitaker was appointed as interim chief in early September after the firing of former police chief Jimmy Macon, which came in direct happening with former Mayor Emily McCann and Larry Cook by virtue become the new Bonifay Mayor. The change came with plenty of controversy and concern from local citizens.

Whitaker is ready to take on his now official role despite the backlash.

“It’s going to be community-oriented policing, we are going to establish programs for the community to get involved in. Put all the negativity behind, regroup, and move forward,” Chief Whitaker said.

During one of the previous city council meetings, Richard Willsey, a concerned citizen, brought up many code violations he has seen around the community. Chief Whitaker’s response was not what Willsey had hoped for.

“The chief of police is responsible for code enforcement for the city of Bonifay. I followed up with him today and asked if he ever issued citations for the numerous code violations for a local business, and his answer was no. I’m kind of questioning how he is going to handle this,” Willsey said.

Willsey said there is only one person who can do this and take on this role. That person is former Chief Jimmy Macon.

“I think nothing is better than Macon. Chief Macon was a very astute, qualified applicant. I very much disagree with the reasoning behind his termination,” Willsey said.

Chief Whitaker said for anyone who has doubts or comments, his door is always open.

“We are going to reach out to (the citizens of Bonifay). If they have an issue, we have an open-door policy, they are more than welcome to come to the police department. We will sit down with them and have an adult conversation, and see where they want the police department to go,” Chief Whitaker said.

Bonifay Mayor Larry Cook was asked about his thoughts on the recent changes, but he declined an on-camera interview.

Subscribe to our News 4 newsletter and receive the latest local news and weather straight to your email every morning. Get instant notifications on top stories from News 4 by downloading our mobile apps.