CROCKETT POLICE CHEIF/HOUSTON COUNTY FAIR ASSOC. PRESIDENT
By Greg Ritchie
The Messenger continues its Sunday Sitdown reports where we speak with our local pastors, educators, local businesspeople, students and interesting people of all walks of life in Houston County. To see the full video interview, click on the link below. The Messenger would like to thank Cutshaw Chevrolet in Grapeland for sponsoring this week’s edition.
What are some of the challenges Crockett police face?
“When that question is asked, a lot of people focus on the issue with the crimes we have. I think these issues stem from deeper problems that maybe the general public may not realize or understand – or even some in law enforcement may not understand. I really think one of the biggest issues we see in our area is a lack of services – like mental health patients and the services that are made available to them. I met with some some people from the state just a few weeks ago and expressed my concerns about that because mental health is a real problem and people suffer from that. Probably following closely second behind is juveniles. Our kids in this community really don’t have a lot to do outside of school or sporting events or athletics. They don’t have a lot to keep their time occupied. And, just as anybody else when when we’re bored, we’re going to find something to do. I would like to see in the future, more things for the kids, more services to help them with that. Sometimes, we have parents that are still very young themselves. They’re still kids essentially. And they haven’t been able to explore the whole life process. We don’t have a lot to help them on parenting or services they may need with their kids.”
How can the public help the police to do their job better?
“When I became chief, one of my main thought process for the community was to have an open-door policy – for the community to know they can come and talk to their chief and can express concerns. There are times I may or may not be available – I like to consider myself a ‘working chief.’ I get out and work with our officers and patrol and do things some chiefs and other agencies don’t do. But my door is always open. Some people might not understand what we do and why we do it. But if I take the time to sit down with them and explain the process – the laws and why we do things we do – a lot of people understand better. The job is not easy at times, especially for the patrol officer and the things they deal with and the things they see. I want the public to understand what the officer goes into. There’s a lot to it. It’s hard to do our job without the public’s help. If you are out on the street and you see something you know is not right, it really helps us when they call and let us know. Our city is almost 7000 population-wise, and we run two officers on the street per shift – one officer on one side of town and the other on the other side. There’s a lot of uncovered areas. And we are working to change that, increase our our staff and our coverage. Most important is maintaining a good relationship between the public and our police department so they can help us do our job – we can’t do it without them.”
What can we expect this year at the Houston County Fair?
“I am the president of the Houston County Fair and Livestock Association. Our fair is coming up the last week of this month, starting March 25 with our opening show, Josh Ward concert following that. Later in the week, when we’ll start checking in fair projects and animals and such and then close out that following Saturday with our sale, our buyers dinner and a buyer’s concert. One of the first things I talk to everybody about is how we are volunteers and volunteering our time for the kids to make it better for them. For one night each month and then a week out of the year, we’re going to be tied up but I feel that being involved in is the least we can do for the kids. It gives them something to look forward to and be be involved with. I remember when I was in school, we always looked forward to the fair and got to hang out with our friends, skip school and it was always a fun time. What we’re really focused on with the board members is making the fair about the kids learning something and taking something back with them they will never forget.”
What does this community mean to you?
“ I think we’ve got a really strong knit community. I think over the last few years our community is starting to grow more together than being apart. You know you watch stories on the news and see stories all over the country that communities are fighting with each other. I understand people may disagree with each other or we may not agree on everything. But at the end of the day, I think we can come together and come up with a solution to fix whatever issues we’re having. You don’t see that in larger cities or larger communities. I really felt that was going to be a difficult part of my job but once you learn how to navigate through that, most people understand in my position, I have a job to do at the end of the day. It’s all about treating people with respect and fairness and you can navigate through that pretty easily. I love our community. The city of Crockett and the rural areas of the county. I’ve made a lot of friends here – a lot of my family is here, so this is home.”
Greg Ritchie can be reached at [email protected]