When Russell Springs Police Chief Tim Pierce was hired earlier this year, he and Mayor Eddie Thomas discussed changes that needed to be made to the police department in order to increase efficiency and help the department run more smoothly.
“That was one of the first things I talked to him about,” Thomas said. “I think accountability is very important, and I think Tim has done a good job of restructuring the department in a way that increases accountability. It’s exciting to see the way this police department is growing and moving forward.”
Part of that change is reorganizing some of the roles that people in the department hold. Pierce said this helps create a more clear chain of command and in turn, the department is able to better serve the public. It also places more officers who have done the job well into leadership roles.
“We’ll have more people out doing what we need to do,” Pierce said. “Which is deterring crime, deterring speeding, and be visible in the neighborhoods.”
A few notable changes have occurred recently.
Bryan Shepard, who joined the police department soon after Pierce took over as chief, was promoted to Assistant Chief. He said he appreciates the opportunity to serve in the new role and has a lot of respect for Pierce.
“I’ve known Chief Pierce for several years, worked with him for 15 or so years, so I know what kind of officer he is, but more importantly what kind of person he is,” Shepard said. “I knew what qualities he would bring to the police department when he came here, so I’m glad to join him and do my best to fill whatever role I’m needed and make sure the police department and the city are successful.”
Bobby Pritchard became lieutenant, which was created as part of recent changes to the department’s policies and procedures, and Lucas Justice and Matt Parrish were named sergeants. Jeremie West was named Senior Patrol officer.
Debra Necessary was also hired as a patrol officer.
Officer Hayden Phillips will be a K-9 handler for the department, and Pierce said they’re hoping to bring a K-9 into the department within the next couple months that will assist with drug searches, article finds, and more. Pierce said the K-9 will not be used for apprehension of suspects, and the K-9 will be able to be brought into the department without any expense to city taxpayers.
With a mix of veteran police officers as well as younger officers, Pierce said the department is aligning shifts so that the younger officers are on the same shift as an older officer.
“That way we have a seasoned veteran officer on shift with someone who is younger,” Pierce said. “With that, they kind of motivate each other and it works well.”
The city is also in the process of bringing on two part-time officers. One officer, Robert Baugh, has already been hired. Baugh is a retired officer and has worked in Russell County as a paramedic.
“Bringing on a couple part-time officers will do a lot to knock out a lot of overtime and ultimately save money for the city,” Pierce said. “There are times that we have someone in schooling or on vacation or out sick, that’s when having the part-time officers becomes valuable.”
Thomas said bringing on part-time officers will go a long way toward improving the mental health of the officers in the department.
“To be the best police officer and the best person you can be, you gotta be mentally stable and mentally healthy,” Thomas said. “If you’re working 60 or 70 hours a week in this job, your mental health suffers. I think we need to keep our officers mentally healthy and ready to go to best protect and serve this community.”