Veteran trooper Don Chastain retires from GSP
By Ann Cantrell
After over three decades as a state trooper, Don Chastain has witnessed numerous changes in law enforcement and through it all had a huge impact on those around him. Captain Bill Ashburn said that over the years Chastain has trained his troopers to excel and has always been a source of support for them.
“There are many people he’s been a role model to and a positive influence,” said Ashburn. He went on to say that people who did not like him, were simply people who were not willing to work and put enough effort into their job.
For Chastain, being a state trooper has been more than just a job. He said that for him, and most people in law enforcement, his career is a part of his life. Last Friday, Feb. 29, Chastain officially retired, leaving behind his position of Deputy Commissioner. As Captain Ashburn explained, Chastain held the second highest position in the entire state, a position that few troopers ever obtain.
Chastain joined the Georgia State Patrol on October 1, 1975. He moved to Madison in 1986 when he became Post Commander of Madison Post Eight.
In Jan. 2007, he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and was appointed Deputy Commissioner the same month.
Over his time spent as a state trooper, Chastain has witnessed a change in both law enforcement and crimes regularly committed. Chastain said that this change in crimes committed has put his life at risk more than ever before. When he first joined the force, most of the arrest he made was people driving under the influence of alcohol and that most of the fights involved hand to hand combat without any shooting.
With the increase in drug use and driving under the influence of drugs, the type of fights have become increasingly violent and dangerous for the troopers. “People do not have as much respect for life or law enforcement,” said Chastain.
When he started his career in 1975, said Chastain, marijuana and alcohol were usually the only drugs people were caught driving under the influence of and that heroine or cocaine was only found in big cities such as Atlanta.
This is not the case now with an increasing number of people being caught in the county for driving under the influence of some type of drug, besides alcohol or both sometimes. New training and technology has been developed to help the trooper deal with the prevalence of these drugs on the road. Troopers now study the twitching of the eyeball as an individual moves their eyes back and forth.
The eyes react differently according to what substance the individual is on.
Chastain said that drug dealers and people transporting drugs are more likely to protect these drugs by shooting at troopers.
After three decades on this dangerous, but necessary job, Chastain is finally retiring.
As for what he plans to do with his free time, Chastain joked that he will try to shorten his “honey-to-do list” for his wife.