(Media release from Georgia Northwestern Technical College):
One Georgia Northwestern Technical College (GNTC) Basic Law Enforcement (BLE) graduate’s conviction is to overcome the road blocks life puts in his way.
Marcus Hill attended classes on GNTC’s Gordon County Campus in Calhoun and graduated in November 2013 with the Academic (Honor Graduate) Award for the highest academic average in his BLE training class. He is currently the interim chief of police for the Atlanta Metropolitan State College Police Department.
“My career thus far has been one entrenched with adversity, road blocks and broken barriers,” Hill said. “I tend not to focus on awards received or things accomplished because there is still so much more to do.”
Becoming a police officer was always a childhood dream as he grew up in Powder Springs, he said, so he became a Law Enforcement Explorer at age 14 with the Powder Springs Police Department and later with the Hiram Police Department, where he rose to the ranks of chief and lieutenant, respectively; the Law Enforcement Exploring program, also called Police Explorers, allows qualified young adults ages 14-21 to explore law enforcement career opportunities by working with local law enforcement agencies. He also served as captain of the McEachern High School security team while a student, he said.
At 19 he had a young child and another on the way as he attended GNTC’s Law Enforcement Academy during the day and worked a full-time civilian job with the City of Hiram at night. He said GNTC’s program appealed to him as one of only a small handful of programs that would allow a pre-service candidate (not currently sponsored by an agency) to apply under the age of 21.
“I still remember sleeping in my car some nights in the parking lot of the campus on my off nights from the city because I could not afford the gas at times for the frequent trips back and forth from Powder Springs,” he said.
Hill said he began working at his current employer in August 2018. He was promoted to rank of captain (assistant chief of police) on Jan. 1 and on April 1 was named interim chief of police.
He provides oversight and management of the Public Safety Department to meet its goal of providing faculty, staff, students and campus visitors with the most community focused, efficient and effective police services; oversees all aspects of campus safety to include monitoring of security systems, protection of life and property, and enforcement of law and order; oversees the daily duties and assignments of the Public Safety staff, ensuring adequate coverage by scheduling staff according to events and campus needs; and works closely with all personnel to achieve optimum performance and professional standards, he said.
The increased responsibilities also come with rewards.
“Nothing is more satisfying in leadership than watching the people you lead accomplish their goals and having just a small part in that,” he said. “Or when you have a vision for an organization, work long nights toward that vision and see it come to pass, that feeling of accomplishment is addictive.”
He said he credits GNTC’s Law Enforcement Academy with laying the foundation on which everything in his career thus far stands.
“I still remember going through the emergency vehicle operation course,” he said. BLE program director and instructor “Jim Pledger had the unfortunate pleasure of riding shotgun. He said, ‘Drive this car, Marcus!’ as he was rather surprised yet excited by my performance in the skid pad training. His reaction gave me a sense of accomplishment that has become a lasting memory.”
Pledger said he believes Hill’s training at GNTC helped to prepare him for his current role.
“I would like to say Marcus learned all he needed from GNTC, but that would not be true,” he said. “Marcus is where he is today because his desire to learn went beyond earning a Basic Law Enforcement certificate. I hope he was motivated and encouraged to do that here at GNTC, but ultimately he set his own goals and went after them.”
Since graduating from GNTC, Hill earned a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Atlanta Metropolitan State College and is preparing to start working towards his master’s degree in Public Administration through the Columbus State University Command College, he said.
“I remember Marcus as a student who really wanted to learn the craft so that he could contribute to his community,” Pledger said. “He was a very good and respectful student, and you could tell he really wanted to learn. I am happy that he is where he is today.”
Hill, now a father of six, said he urges others not to be afraid to break barriers, not to let others set their limitations and not to be afraid to do what others believe impossible.
“You and you alone are responsible for how far you can go in this life,” he said. “Don’t work according to another person’s time table. Failure is OK; quitting is not. If you fall down seven times, get up eight.”
Nick Henry, interim vice president for Fiscal Affairs at Atlanta Metropolitan State College, said Hill juggles his family obligations, college courses and a job that keeps him on call all the time.
“Marcus is always willing to step up and take on additional work because he wants to progress,” he said. “He’s somebody willing to take on more to learn more.”
The college police department operates on a “lean” staff where everyone works a little bit harder, Henry said. Hill displays great leadership by always being willing to do what is asked of him and not expecting others on the team to do more than he is willing to do himself. He does whatever is necessary for the police department and college to succeed.
Lauretta Hannon, GNTC’s executive director of Institutional Advancement, previously worked with Hill.
“It was such a joy to watch Marcus do his job at Atlanta Metropolitan State College. He brought exceptional excellence every day, and I loved watching how he interacted with students and dealt with situations,” she said. “I only recently learned that he is a GNTC alumnus and am so proud of that fact. He is a true superstar in law enforcement.”