CANTON, GA (October 9, 2023) – Canton Police Chief Stephen Merrifield has announced his intended retirement from the law enforcement profession effective later this fall. Merrifield has served as Chief of the Canton Police Department since January 2020.
“I would like to thank Mayor Grant and our Council members for all of the support they have offered me and the Canton Police Department during my tenure,” noted Merrifield.
Chief Merrifield joined the City of Canton in February 2015 as Deputy Police Chief following a thirty-year career with Cobb County Police rising to the rank of Major. Merrifield started his career with an enlistment in the United States Army, serving four years in the Airborne Ranger Unit ending his time with the rank of Sergeant.
“We are certainly sad to see Chief Merrifield retire, but he has served his community and nation well for over 39 years in law enforcement and his time in the Army,” said Mayor Bill Grant. “Our Canton community is better because of his leadership and his commitment to protecting the public, serving all citizens with integrity, and being dedicated to advancing the profession of law enforcement.”
Chief Merrifield’s Impact on the Community
During his tenure as Police Chief, Merrifield worked to assure that front line responders and the public received necessary services and support during the Coronavirus Pandemic which started shortly after his appointment. He is credited for building consistent relationships with all populations in the City of Canton through dedication to diversity initiatives, hiring a department that better matches the demographics of the local community, and working with others to create opportunities for positive interaction between the public and law enforcement officers.
Additional accomplishments during his service to Canton include the start of the Multicultural Festival, Annual Kickball with a Cop event with St. Paul AME Church, the transition to a new records management system, relocation of the department to the former City Hall site at 151 Elizabeth Street, the addition of electric motorcycles for park patrols, serving as the staff liaison to the Public Safety Citizens Advisory Board, implementation of the City’s step-grade compensation plan for sworn personnel, and a number of training initiatives for his team.
The Canton Police Department added the rank of Captain during his service, now having three on staff. Merrifield was instrumental in requesting additional appropriations from the City Council for improvements to the department’s patrol fleet, uniform improvements, safety equipment upgrades, improved arms for officers, utilizing crime analysis to build department efficiencies, and improving overall training within the department to increase promotions and recruit talent.
“Chief Merrifield stepped up into the leadership of our department at a critical time in history. Between a pandemic, social unrest throughout the nation, and a lack of applicants to the profession of law enforcement, he provided a steady hand of experience for Canton Police,” added Billy Peppers, City Manager. “Stephen always advocated for his team and the profession of law enforcement. His dedication along with the support of the Mayor and City Council allowed our City to remain well-supported in policing while many neighboring communities amassed critical shortages of officers.”
“I would like to thank every member of the Canton Police Department, sworn and non-sworn, for their dedication to our great Community and their selfless public service,” added Merrifield. “It has been an honor to lead the finest law enforcement agency in the nation and to be part of such a caring and compassionate City.”
Chief Merrifield will remain on with the department through a current round of promotions, assisting Canton Police Department in advancing the careers of its men and women of law enforcement. As that process is completed, the City will host a retirement ceremony for the Chief and provide more details on the filling of the vacancy.
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