Col. Chris Wright

ATLANTA – Col. Chris Wright will retire from his position as commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety Oct. 1 after three years in the leadership post, Gov. Brian Kemp announced Thursday.

The state Board of Public Safety voted Thursday to promote Lt. Col. William “Billy” Hitchens III, the agency’s deputy commissioner, to succeed Wright.

Kemp praised Wright for leading the Georgia State Patrol during a difficult period in its history.

“During times of civil unrest and the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic, Colonel Wright demonstrated resilience, foresight, and strength that has led to reductions in crime and safer communities all across Georgia,” the governor said.

Besides serving as deputy commissioner, Hitchens also oversees the state patrol, the public safety agency’s Motor Carrier Compliance Division and the Capitol Police. After graduating from the 69th Trooper School in 1995, he was assigned to Centennial Olympic Park during the 1996 Summer Olympics and received a Meritorious Service Award for his actions prior to and immediate after the bombing.

Also on Thursday, the public safety board confirmed Maj. Kendrick Lowe to step up to deputy public safety commissioner and promoted Lt. Col. Joshua Lamb to the role of assistant commissioner.