Police chief to be determined June 9

Published 4:00 am Saturday, June 6, 2015

Two captains interviewed Friday to be the next chief for Troy Police Department.

Capt. Randall Barr and Capt. Danny Barron interviewed with the Troy mayor and city council during a special called meeting of the council. Both seek to replace Chief Jimmy Ennis, who will retire Sept. 30 after four years as chief.

“We have two very solid applicants in house and that’s always what you hope for,” said Mayor Jason Reeves. “You always want to grow your own leaders from within your department, and I think we’ve been able to do that.”

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Candidates fielded questions from council members that covered a broad range of topics – from training to how they would build relationships with the community. “We had two excellent candidates who both did a very good job today,” said Johnny Witherington, council president. “I hope the council will see fit to select one as the police chief ‘in waiting’ on Tuesday, June 9.”

Barr, who interviewed first on Friday, has over 25 years experience in law enforcement. He also interviewed for the chief’s position in 2011, when then-chief Anthony Everage was retiring.

“I just thought I was ready for that job four years ago,” Barr said after the interview. “I feel a lot more confident about my abilities now then I did then.”

Barr holds a criminal justice degree from Troy State University. He began working with the Troy Police Department in 1991, after two years as a patrolman at Troy State University. He was promoted to a sergeant in 2001; to lieutenant in 2002; and to captain in 2010, when took over management of the 36-officer patrol division. During his tenure with the force, he developed and implemented the eight-week field training program used for all new officers hired at the department and he has served as a sniper and entry team member for the emergency response team. He also has assisted with management of the dispatch and jail division.

“I’m proud of what we’ve got here,” Barr said. “I’m proud of our department, proud of the relationship we’ve got with our guys here. I think I can do this job and do it well … I want to be the leader and the role model for the department like I’ve tried to be throughout my career.”

Barr said he has sought to instill a commitment to transparency and honesty in his role as a patrol captain, and he would carry that same commitment into the chief’s office. “Being a sergeant, a captain or a chief … that rank or title is not what I’m after,” he said. “I want to be that person they know they can go to … who will be fair with everybody, who will be truthful at all times.

“We’ve got to be open and treat people fairly in all we doe. We’ve got to be honest in our dealings and try our cases in the court of law, not in the court of public opinion.”

Barr also said developing and strengthening community relations would be critical to the police department’s future success. “The police department cannot operate without the support of the community,” he said. “We’ve got to work to maintain that trust of the community. At times, this trust could be better … but we want the community to know that they can call the people. We’re here to help them, not hurt them.

“If we don’t go into these neighborhoods and talk to these people then they don’t see us as people; they just see us as ‘the police.’”

Barr says his greatest weakness is “talking about myself.”

“I don’t need a pat on my back or don’t need to talk about myself,” he said. “That’s just not who I am.”

He sees his biggest strength in his ability to communicate with people. “I’ve always been able to talk to people and try to get things accomplished with anger or issues … I try to be a positive influence on people.”

Barron is a 24-year veteran of the Troy Police Department. “I started working part-time as a jailer when I graduated from high school,” he said. He earned a criminal justice degree from Troy University and has progressed through the ranks at the police department, from jailer to dispatcher to patrol officer and, in 2011, he was promoted to captain of the criminal investigation division, where he supervises the investigations and manages all felony cases and case files. He graduated in 2012 from the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va., a program that is open to only 2 percent of all law enforcement officials in the nation.

“Police work is something I’ve always been proud of and something I’ve always wanted to do growing up,” Barron told the council members. As for applying for the chief’s position, “I’ve thought about it and prayed about it for a long time. I love this community. I’m excited about the direction the department is going. I’m excited about a lot of things this department is doing. I want to sure we continue moving forward.”

Barron said he sees three primary challenges ahead for the department: public perception and community relations; implementing and using technology; and recruiting and keeping good officers.

“Our number one challenge is making sure we keep up a good relationship with the public here in Troy,” he said. “

Using an analogy of a spider – “I know it won’t hurt me, but my teenage daughters are terrified of it” – Barron told the council that perception issues plague police departments as well. “There’s a lot of people who have that (negative) perception of the police … the only time they see us is when we’re coming into the home to take mama or daddy out in handcuffs,” he said. “And we have to break down that divide. It will take help from the whole community to break down that divide.”

Citing a range of programs, from Explorer programs geared toward introducing youth to the roles of police officers to a citizen police academy which could educate residents about the laws and the officers’ roles, Barron said he would seek opportunities to build relationships within all segments of the community. “And I think it’s important that we work to reach the youth, to teach them not to be afraid of the police,” he said.

As for technology, Barron said he is excited about the functionality a new CAD system will bring to the department. “But technology could easily leave us behind,” he said. “We’ve got to work to stay ahead of the game.”

And on recruiting, “we’re only as good as the officers we’re recruiting,” he said. “”We’ve got good officers here and we need to make sure we continue to get good officers. Unfortunately, in today’s community people are not just biting at the bit to be police officers.”

Barron said his personal leadership style is to “lead from the front”

“You’ve got to be out there with your team,” he said. “It’s hard for me to lead sitting behind a desk constantly. I can’t do it … I can tell my officers ‘this is how I want you to treat the public’ but as a leader they need to see you there and see how you treat the public.”

Barron said his work leading the investigative division had provided him opportunities to help the department. “We’ve been able to bring together the detectives and the other departments,” he said. “It’s amazing that in a department as small as the Troy Police there can be a lack of communication, but you find out that between the patrol, detective and jailer division sometimes you don’t stop and talk. One thing we do now is sit down every Monday and have a meeting where we’ve been able to talk about the open cases, about the weekend. It has helped.”

Barron points that type of communication as his biggest strength. “I’m fairly easy going until I can’t be any more,” he said. “And in this job, that’s key.”

And he says his biggest challenge in transitioning to chief would lie in learning and mastering the budget. “That’s probably where I’m lacking the most. But I would handle the city’s money like my own,” he said.