“He was living in Long Island, working as a painter and would race stock cars in his spare time,” she said. “A friend was going down to Miami to take the test to work for the Miami-Dade Police Department, and he rode down with him.”
He waited in the lobby for his friend to finish the test. A recruiter noticed him and convinced him to take the test, too.
“He took the test, passed it with one of the highest scores, and they offered him a job,” Denise Flynn said. “He told me he thought he’d give it a try and never looked back, so I guess it was meant to be and he’s done well in his career.”
The 61-year-old has served as Marietta’s chief of police for the last six years. Before that, he worked his way up through the ranks in the Miami-Dade Police Department and retired as a major in 2000. He served as the chief of police for what is now the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department through 2006.
One colleague who has been around for 26 of Flynn’s 40-year career is Keith Vermillion. The pair worked together in Miami and again in Savannah.
“We worked in narcotics together … started the Tactical Narcotics Team together in July 1990,” said Vermillion, who now serves as commander over criminal investigations in Alachua County, Fla.
The team was responsible for going into drug-infested neighborhoods and trying to turn them around.
“We tried to improve the lifestyle for the residents there … to take back the neighborhoods,” Vermillion said.
Using a five-phase process developed by Flynn and Vermillion, they spent six to eight weeks at a time making multiple drug arrests and recouping neighborhoods in south Florida.
“Nobody had ever done anything like that before, and it ended up being so successful, that he and I traveled to other states to teach them how to implement this program and execute it,” he said. “It was a fantastic program and still exists today.”
They also had the opportunity to work together on special patrols during Miami Dolphins, college, Pro Bowl and Super Bowl football games and two World Series. The pair even orchestrated security for the 1994 and 1999 Woodstock concerts.
Vermillion also followed Flynn to Chatham County to start the Savannah Impact Program and returned to the Gainesville, Fla., area upon Flynn’s resignation from that department in 2006.
“He’s just a cop’s cop and doesn’t just talk the talk, but walks the walk with a lot of experience,” he said. “He’s a gem!”
While working in Savannah, Flynn developed a work relationship and a friendship with current Police Chief Willie Lovett.
“It was a great experience for me,” said Lovett about serving as Flynn’s assistant chief for six years in Savannah. “There are not many men like him in law enforcement. Thanks to him being a true policeman, I learned a lot, and I appreciate his friendship, as well as his confidence in me.”
Lovett was also there when Flynn was part of the merger of the Savannah and Chatham County police departments.
“He did a lot of research and tried to learn from other departments’ mistakes,” he said. “The transition went pretty smooth.”
Another memory he’ll always share with Flynn is the chief’s love for food.
“He won’t miss too many meals out at restaurants,” Lovett said. “We went to a new restaurant just about every day. He was a great connoisseur of food.”
During those many, many meals, Lovett said Flynn would share stories of his time in Miami-Dade.
“He was full of stories, as many stories that I’d let him tell,” he said.
Fast forward to the past six years in Marietta, and that love and respect from Flynn’s staff continues.
Deputy Chief David Beam, who has worked with Marietta Police since 1986, served as the acting police chief until Flynn was appointed to the position.
“It’s been really good,” he said about Flynn’s service since 2007. “We were in really good shape when he arrived, and there were not a lot of problems to deal with at all, but he’s the type of chief that wants things to be even better.”
Beam said Flynn implemented short- and long-term strategic plans for the department, coming up with crime-related goals, looking at practices and technology use.
“It’s more about the delivery of service and how the police department is doing its job for the community,” he said.
Beam also said working with Flynn has been pretty easy.
“He’s demanding in that he wants you to do the best that you can on every task, but he’s not one that breathes down your throat,” he said.
Beam described the chief as being a stand-up guy outside the office as well.
“When the tornado came through Adairsville, he was off duty and took his personal truck and trailer, grabbed some power tools to help people,” he said. “He just wanted to see what he could do to help. That’s not something you hear of chiefs doing all the time, but that’s the way he is. He likes to stay busy and do things that are going to impact others.”
Deborah Duncan, who has worked with the local department for 25 years, has been his assistant for the last five years.
“As far as previous chiefs, they’ve all come to Marietta and made their marks, but he’s a real trailblazer,” she said. “It’s truly been an honor to work with this man.”
She’s eligible to retire this year but has told Flynn she will stay with the department as long as he’s chief.
“Forty years is such an achievement in one’s life, and of all the places he could have been, he’s now in Marietta, and it’s truly been a blessing,” she said.