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Richard Jewell gets dream job back: He’s a police officer

November 26, 1997

ATLANTA (AP) _ More than a year after he was cleared as a suspect in the Olympic bombing, Richard Jewell is back on the police beat.

The former security guard started Tuesday as a police officer in Luthersville, a small town about 40 miles southwest of Atlanta that was once known as ``speed trap city.″

``It took me a year and a half to get back to work, but finally I came and talked to the chief the other day,″ Jewell told WSB-TV. ``I liked what he had to say and he liked what I had to say, so he hired me.″

Police Chief Paige McNeese hired Jewell to fill one of two vacancies in the five-officer department. He said he didn’t think giving Jewell the job would present a problem.

``Of course we’re going to have some attention, but the man applied to me for a job. He’s well qualified. He has experience. He has training. And most of all, he wants to be a police officer,″ McNeese said.

``Anybody that will risk their life to be police officer for $8 an hour, they’ve got to want to be a police officer,″ he said.

Last year, Jewell spent 88 days under the microscope of the FBI and the world media after he was named as a suspect in the Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta that killed one woman and injured more than 100. The FBI publicly ruled him out as a suspect in October 1996.

Jewell worked for six years as a security guard and five years as a jailer and then deputy sheriff before taking a job as a security guard at the Olympics.

But he told The Associated Press in July that after months of rejection, he had given up his dream of returning to law enforcement.

``No police chief wants someone working for them that has had the press that I’ve had,″ he said.

His lawyer, Lin Wood, said Jewell deserved another chance.

``Richard’s a good law enforcement officer,″ said Wood. ``The concern has always been that he would be viewed too controversial to the public to be given a chance.″

Luthersville, a town of about 750, had been called ``speed trap city″ a few years ago because, in a typical year, police wrote the equivalent of two traffic tickets for each of the city’s residents.

But last week, Gov. Zell Miller praised the police department, calling it one of the top local agencies in Georgia.

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