GLASGOW – The person who garnered the most votes in the initial selection process for the next chief of the Glasgow Police Department started as a patrol officer there in 2002.
Jennifer Arbogast then became a detective, then detective sergeant and, since late 2014, has been a captain.
“I've worked my way up through the ranks,” she said.
She completed the Kentucky Department of Criminal Justice Training's Criminal Justice Executive Development course in the fall of 2017, and in 2018, she graduated from a 10-week leadership-focus training program at the Federal Bureau of Investigation's National Academy in Quantico, Va.
The votes were obtained from half-a-dozen members of the community appointed to the search committee by Mayor Harold Armstrong, members of the Glasgow Common Council Public Safety Committee and employees of the GPD after seven candidates were interviewed by those committee members and the GPD personnel then were provided opportunities to watch the video recordings of the interviews. The mayor did not vote, he said.
Armstrong said the cardboard box containing the pieces of paper on which the votes were written had been sealed with tape, and he kept it in his car and a filing cabinet in his office, both of which were locked when he wasn't there, in between the viewing/voting sessions. On Thursday, Gary Norman, Wendell Honeycutt and Marlin Witcher, three of five members of the Public Safety Committee, City Attorney Danny Basil and the mayor met in the mayor's office, Armstrong said after being contacted by the Glasgow Daily Times on Friday afternoon. The seal was cut with a knife and the votes were dumped onto the conference table there and counted, he said.
Darrell Pickett, a former police chief and mayor in Glasgow and one of the citizen members of the committee, was out of town and couldn't attend, and another one of the citizen members Armstrong asked to attend never got back to him, Armstrong said.
He said there were two or three votes' difference between Arbogast and the next-highest vote getter, and three or four to the person with the third-highest count, and then a significant gap down from there to the next person.
That makes Arbogast the nominee and the would-be first female police chief here, but the full Glasgow Common Council has to approve the choice, at the next regular meeting on Monday.
Armstrong said he called Arbogast to confirm she would accept the position and asked the city clerk to send an email out to the other candidates and then, around noontime to the council members to give them notice of the choice before Monday's meeting. The agenda that was distributed to media simply says, “announcement of new city of Glasgow police chief.”
Arbogast said the mayor called her around 8:30 or 9 a.m. Friday and asked her to come see him to discuss some things, and he gave her the news as they met.
“I'm honored and I want to continue to work in the community,” she said when the Daily Times contacted her after talking with the mayor. “We have got a great set of officers here … and I enjoy working with each and every one of them, and I look forward to us continuing to work in the community.”
Her time at the GPD has not been without some bumps in the road, but Arbogast said she's got nothing to say about negative things that happened in the past, because that's where they need to be left – in the past.
“We need to continue to move forward and continue to build trust in the community and work on those relationships more and work on our goals and objectives and go on from there,” Arbogast said. “We will hold to our core values, We will be held accountable to any wrongdoing, and we will work together as a team. We've got a really good foundation and we need to build upon it. We go forward. We don't go backward.”
Armstrong told the Daily Times he knew he wouldn't please everyone no matter what process he used to select a chief or who was ultimately chosen, but as of Friday, he still felt this was the fairest way to do it. When he's gained about a year of hindsight on it, he'll figure out whether it was really the best way, he said.
“With her record, I don't think she'll do anything she's not supposed to be doing,” the mayor said. “I've got all the faith in the world in our police department and the leadership that's in place out there right now.”
He said he doesn't feel like he's walking on eggshells there now, and he hopes to keep it that way. He believes things at the GPD are improving and will continue to do so.
“It'll be good,” Armstrong said.