Chief Jimmy L. Gwatney, 85, of Lake Charles passed away at 10:35 PM on Saturday, July 29, 2023 in his residence.
Chief Gwatney was born in Bakersfield, California. He came to Lake Charles in 1943. He was a graduate of LaGrange High School and attended McNeese State University where he studied Criminology. Chief Gwatney served with the United States Army from 1955 to 1958. On October 28, 1959, Chief Gwatney joined the Lake Charles Police Department where he worked as a patrol officer for several years. He was then transferred to the Traffic Division where he worked as a motorcycle officer. In April 1966 he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant. He worked as a detective sergeant for seven years until his promotion to Lieutenant, at which time he was transferred back to Patrol where he worked as shift supervisor for five years. In March, 1975, he was appointed Chief of Police and served until his retirement on October 1, 1981. Since his appointment, Chief Gwatney has pursued an agressive program of public speaking engagements before local civic organizations in an attempt to increase awareness of the Police Role within the Community. The Chief's attitude, in regard to police operations, was demonstrated by the motto each patrol unit bears "PUBLIC SERVICE THROUGH PUBLIC SUPPORT".
In the interest of providing the public with better service and developing an understanding of police activities, he has established a Community Relations Section within the department. This section is staffed by a Police Sergeant who devotes his time entirely to community action programs. In furthering the theme of public service, Chief Gwatney was responsible for obtaining a Police Rescue Unit through the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission. The unit is on 24 hour call to extract and render aid to persons trapped or injured in automobile accidents.
Chief Gwatney has also been very aggressive in his attack on criminal activity. Under his direction the department's burglary unit has compiled an approximate 30% recovery rate on stolen goods, 49% higher than the national average.
As in any profession~ the key to success often lies in adequate training of personnel to accomplish their assigned tasks. In recognition of this responsibility, Chief Gwatney has coordinated closely with Federal, State and local governmental and educational organizations to insure police personnel are well versed in the latest and most effective techniques of Law Enforcement and Public Service.
Chief Gwatney had served on the Board of Directors of the Southwest District Law Enforcement Planning Council, on the Board of Trustees of the Boys Clubs of Lake Charles, and was a member of the Louisiana Chiefs Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Louisiana Peace Officers Association, the Municipal Police Officers Association, Lake Charles Police Benefit Association and the Fraternal Order of Police. He is a past member of the Lake Charles Fire & Police Service Board. Chief Gwatney also served as the hearing officer for the Lake Charles Housing Authority for 31 years.
Those left to cherish his memory are sons, Jimmy Gwatney, Jr. (Rhonda) and Ian Gwatney; two grandchildren; and one great grandchild.
Funeral services will be held at 1:00 PM on Thursday, August 3, 2023 in the Johnson Funeral Home chapel. The Rev. Steve James will officiate. Burial will follow in Highland Memory Gardens. Visitation will begin on Wednesday from 5:00 PM until 8:00 PM and will resume at 8:00 AM on Thursday until the start of the service.