A 19-year veteran of the Paris Police Department is the new chief.
Eric Brown moved into the position May 4 following former Chief Mike Henness’ May 3 retirement. The official swearing in ceremony comes during the May 13 Paris city council meeting.
“It just felt right this time,” Brown said of his decision to seek the chief’s job after Henness announced his retirement plans.
He briefly considered applying for the job five years ago when Henness was made chief but decided not to do so.
“This is not about making more money or boosting my pension,” Brown said. “I was ready for a change and now I can move on and bring my experience and the relationships I have built into the chief’s position.”
He was referring to contacts created with multiple law enforcement agencies during his 14 years as an investigator with the department. During that time, Brown worked with the FBI, DEA, postal inspectors, state investigators and detectives from neighboring jurisdictions on a variety of cases.
Brown didn’t originally plan on being a police officer. Like many in the community, his first job was cleaning bean fields when he was 11 and that was something he did every summer through age 15. During high school, he worked at the former IGA grocery store and was employed at Eagle-Picher for 10 years after graduation, but it wasn’t satisfying.
“I knew that wasn’t for me – 10 years and I was ready to do something different,” said Brown.
The idea of police work happened by chance. Brown bought a house and his neighbor was Roger Findley, a Paris police officer. The two became acquainted and Findley suggested Brown think about joining the force. Brown considered the idea, applied during the next testing cycle and was hired.
“I owe quite a bit to Roger for that,” said Brown.
A career in law enforcement is something Brown has enjoyed. He appreciates that it offers challenges and lacks routine so no day is ever the same as the one before it. He acknowledged some days are good and some days are bad.
“I dealt with crimes like sex offenses that nobody wants to deal with but when you can get resolution that can provide closure for families,” said Brown.
He added despite the positives of police work there are a couple of issues anybody considering law enforcement as a career must consider. First, there is the constant exposure to bad people, often engaged in heinous activity. This can lead to an attitude that everybody is bad and that is something Brown wants his officers to guard against. He said there are many good people throughout the community.
Responding to suicides is another unpleasant duty of the job. He said anybody who thinks they can’t deal with that should avoid police work.
Brown sees the department as heading in the right direction, and he wants to continue the emphasis Henness placed on public relations, while also providing more training to the officers.
“I have lots of ideas but I’m learning the day-to-day operations. When I’m comfortable with that I can start implementing some things,” said Brown.
One of those ideas is already underway. Police officers are no longer giving warnings before issuing citations for junk, debris and abandoned vehicles around homes. The proliferation of such properties concerns Brown, noting it is not the Paris he remembers while growing up.
“I firmly believe a cleaner city brings in better citizens, and with that, less crime,” said Brown. “It’s not something you can change overnight.”