BONIFAY, Fla. (WMBB) — Bonifay has a new police chief. Johnny Whitaker now takes the reigns for the Bonifay Police Department.

Whitaker grew up in Bonifay and has an extensive background in law enforcement. 

City clerk Rickey Callahan swore in the new chief at Monday night’s council meeting.

Whitaker tells News 13 he has a new focus for his department. 

“It’s gonna be more community-oriented policing. We’re going to establish some programs for the community to get involved in and move forward. We’re gonna put all of the negativity and everything behind us and regroup, restructure, and move forward,” said Whitaker. 

The city terminated the previous chief after he allegedly left a firearm at a Dothan restaurant. 

Whitaker declined to comment on the incident but said he and his officers will not be focused on the past.

“I’ve instructed our guys not to get into the drama related to public relations with whatever happens in city government. Our main focus is the citizens in the community if we can maintain that perspective, we can move forward,” said Whitaker.

Interim Bonifay Mayor Larry Cook declined to comment on camera about the new police chief at the Monday meeting.

Citizens in Bonifay said they hope he can put the residents first.

“Well, I hope he does right by the people in the city,” said resident Richard Willsey. “I kind of question how he’s going to handle the position when blatant violations of code are going on right under his nose in the city that he drives by. We all drive past it multiple times a day, every day and he doesn’t address a simple thing like pulling the mess up.” 

Whitaker said he will be posting new job positions for the police department in hopes of driving the new force forward. 

Interim Mayor Larry Cook appointed Whitaker as interim chief at the same time he fired former chief Jimmy Macon on Sept. 5. 

You can read about those previous events below.