Pickett picks Johnson to lead force

Horace Johnson speaks to someone who was on hand Friday afternoon at the Glasgow City Council chambers for a press conference. Johnson was picked as chief of the Glasgow Police Department on an interim basis by mayor Darrell Pickett, pending approval by the Glasgow City Council on Monday.

Glasgow Mayor Darrell Pickett announced his choice for an interim chief of police Friday afternoon at city hall.

Pickett asked Gary Bewley to step down following the arrest of two high-ranking officers in the Glasgow Police Depart-ment.

Horace F. Johnson, of Allen County, is the mayor’s pick to take over the top spot. If approved Monday by city council, Johnson will take over for Bewley.

Pickett explained his decision to make a change in leadership at the police department during a press conference Friday.

“As the saying goes, Nothing changes if nothing changes, and if I keep doing what I’ve always done, I’ll keep getting what I’ve always got...” he said. “Over time, individuals, businesses and organizations – even with the best of intentions – can unconsciously become ineffective, stagnant and self-preserving. And police departments are not immune from this phenomenon.

“I believe the way to restore public trust in the police department is to change the public personality of the department and place in its leadership someone with no prior connection to the department, who can rebuild the trust outside the restraint of department culture.”

Johnson is known to many in the community because of his bid last year for state senator in the 9th District, Pickett said, but is known even more in law enforcement circles because of his credentials. Johnson is a 23-year law enforcement veteran.

Johnson served in patrol, investigations and as a supervisor with the Western Kentucky Univer-sity Police Department including as chief from 1991 until 1999, Pickett said. While chief WKU police were the fourth department in Kentucky accredited by the Kentucky Association of Chiefs of Police

Johnson has also worked at the Kentucky Depart-ment of Criminal Justice Training for several years. He held several positions including compliance section investigator manager, training support division director, training operations director in September 2003, where he led the Basic Training Branch, Advanced Individual Training Branch Skill Branch and the Kentucky Leadership Institute Branch consisting of more than 100 employees, Pickett said.

“Horace Johnson’s credentials and job experience are outstanding. He has the ideal skill set to lead our police department out of this current ordeal and into a new chapter of exemplary law enforcement for the citizens of Glasgow,” Pickett said.

Johnson addressed the standing-room-only crowd being introduced by Pickett.

“I pledge to you that we will enforce the laws of the Commonwealth of  Kentucky with the knowledge that we must do so with integrity and respect for all those we serve. I will except nothing less,”

Johnson said. “We’re all here to serve the community. We begin anew today facing new challenges all along the way. I have faith that this department’s men and women are up to those challenges.”

Johnson and Pickett met with the remaining police captains who are the high-ranking officers of the department after Friday’s press conference.

Pickett said he expects Johnson to take quick action, but changes may not be immediately apparent.

“The new chief just kind of laid out today some of the things that he wants to do,” Pickett said. “It’s going to be a day at a time because he’s coming in and he doesn’t know anybody and he’s got to learn people and meet with people.”

Although Johnson will be interim chief, Pickett said there are no plans yet as to how long he will have the position or if he will be made permanent chief. It will be up to Johnson how long he will be in the interim position, Pickett said.

“Johnson is interim. I talked to him. There is no time frame and I just kind of let him decide when he thinks he’s had enough or if he wants to stay,” he said. “We just have to see how it works. I hope he will stay for some time especially to get the department back on track to some degree. He’s going to be on top of things. His life is police and he knows how departments should be run because he’s gone throughout the whole state of Kentucky visiting these small departments. He has a good feel of what he’s looking for – what he wants to see happen and I think he will.”

Johnson was his one and only choice, Pickett said.

“He was the only person I had contacted. I think his credentials pretty much say it all,” he said. “He’s been there. He’s done that. In the military he was a lieutenant colonel. You don’t get to be a lieutenant colonel unless there’s something special about you. He has great credentials and I think he’ll put those credentials or that experience to good use. He’s going to get on top of it right now. If there’s any problems, he’s going to investigate. He’s going to find out about the department as a whole and what the department needs to be doing at this particular time. Like I said, It’s not going to happen overnight, but I think there’s going to be some changes.”

There were no candidates inside the department considered for the chief’s position at this time, he said.

“It had to be an outsider. I think it was time for an outsider to come in,” Pickett said. “He has no ties with any of these men and women. This was to assure that we have a new police chief who is not tied with the department at all.”

Pickett gave his full support to the remaining officers at the police department.

“We have a great police department. I’ve always highly respected our police department and I still highly respect our police officers,” he said. “They’re doing their jobs and they will continue to do their jobs. I believe in our men and women in the Glasgow Police Department and will continue to support them.”

The department is continuing to protect the citizens, Pickett said.  “They’re out here 24 hours a day, seven days a week going their job and this has been a black eye to the department, but they’re still carrying on their job and I have confidence in them. Glasgow is a safe place to live. That’s not going to change.”

Some local law enforcement officials have already voiced their approval of the mayor’s pick.

“They made a good choice. He’s a great guy,” Barren County 

Sheriff Chris Eaton said after the announcement. “He’s helped me a lot since I’ve been sheriff.”

Johnson’s wife, Margaret, said they are both happy and excited about this opportunity.

“We’re looking forward to being a part of the Glasgow community and getting to know people here,” she said. “Glasgow’s a great (community). We met a lot of the people when he ran for office and got to know them and think a lot of them here.”

Johnson said he wants a greater level of transparency in the department.

“Meeting with the employees of the department is particularly important to me. I want them to hear everything first from me – from my expectations of what I see as the vision for the department and myself. I’m going to let them hear that first and I expect it to be a two-way communication. It’s not just one-way. I look forward to being here and working with everybody in the community not just the police, but everybody we come in contact with.”

Johnson thanked the mayor and members of the community for this opportunity.

“Leading this department is an honor and again I appreciate your faith in me,” he said.

Johnson quoted a man he said worked for and greatly respected in his closing comments to help convey his philosophy. “Leadership is a behavior and not a position.”

The mayor called for a special meeting of the city council Monday at 9 a.m. to seek the council’s approval of Johnson’s appointment. If council members approve, Johnson will take over immediately.

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