Mark Bentley used to drive 85 miles to work every day. Then came a chance to make a move toward home.
On April 16, command of the Georgia State Patrol Thomson Post changed hands. Sgt. Scott Johnson became a lieutenant, opening up the position near Sgt. Bentley's long-time home in Warren County.
Sgt. Mark Bentley, a Warren County resident, is the new commander of the Thomson Post of the Georgia State Patrol.
Photo by Kristopher Wells
Since Thomson is much closer than Conyers, where he had been serving as post commander, the move made sense. Now the 22-year veteran trooper is bringing his experience and love of the area to the local GSP post.
"I'm very close to the house, and I like it very much," said Sgt. Bentley, who has been married for 25 years and has four daughters.
Sgt. Bentley got into law enforcement -- what he jokingly refers to as "the family business" -- in 1982. He is one of five troopers in his extended family. He also has family members involved in other similar jobs. One is a deputy; another is a ranger with the Department of Natural Resources.
He said law enforcement officers are in a unique position, one that he enjoys because of his ability to assist the average citizen in a variety of ways.
"We're not selling anything, and yet you get to help a lot of people," Sgt. Bentley said of stopping for breakdowns, working accidents and especially educating the public. "People think that we ride around making life miserable for folks, and I'm sure that we do in the process of doing our job. But we do a lot more than that."
Though he enjoyed working as a member of the GSP's Special Collision Reconstruction Team for four years, Sgt. Bentley said his job as post commander brings a different kind of fulfillment.
As for the duties at his new job, Sgt. Bentley described what he does as "to make the post run like it's supposed to." He handles the supervisory duties like scheduling patrols, but he also does some patrolling himself. And he already has good things to say about his new office home.
"It's a good post. We've got a bunch of good people here. In fact, I'm very pleased," he said. "Sgt. Johnson left a very organized post. Everybody pretty well knows their business, and the quality of people here is very good."
Part of the reason behind the quality of local troopers could be that they are local. Sgt. Bentley pointed out that there are currently five retired post commanders living within the Thomson Post's coverage area.
"We're here to do a job, and we will," he said. "We're part of the community too."