Haltom City chief changes mind, decides not to go to Arizona

12/01/2013 12:00 AM

11/29/2013 10:29 PM

Haltom City Police Chief Keith Lane was excited about a new future in Arizona.

Lane took over the Haltom City Police Department four years ago after spending 22 years rising through the ranks in Keller.

But in September, he was offered the chief’s job in the central Arizona community of Prescott Valley, about 12 miles northeast of Prescott.

Lane, an avid cyclist, was ready for the dry climate, the proximity to the Grand Canyon and national forests. The people were kind and welcoming. The community, about the same size as Haltom City, would be a great place to retire, he thought.

But, as his Nov. 30 departure date loomed, Texas started to tighten its grip on him.

“You know, when I told my folks that I took the job, I really wasn’t ready for their reaction,” he said. “Then the folks in the community and the City Council started reaching out to me.

“That started wearing on my heart.”

The community wanted to keep Lane as chief because he got results, said City Manager Tom Muir.

Lane created new units for bike patrols, fighting street crimes and deterring drunk driving.

In a recent interview, Lane said he was especially proud of the department’s Crime Free Multi-Housing program in which police work closely with apartment complex managers to deter crime with background checks, improved lighting and landscaping and, when necessary, prompt evictions.

According to Lane, “Part 1” crimes — burglaries, robberies, vehicle thefts, rapes and murders — used to average about 2,000 per year in Haltom City, but that’s been cut to about 500.

“But,” Lane added, “the thing I’m most proud of is we have not had a complaint against an officer sustained since 2010, and we average about 60,000 calls for service per year.”

Muir said the department has “really rallied around” Lane.

“He got them operating on a different level,” Muir said, “but it’s more of him in the background, cheering them on, and he gives them all the credit.”

The turning point for Lane came a few weeks ago during a 13-hour drive to Prescott Valley to sign some paperwork.

“I started thinking, ‘Is this really what I want to do?’” he said.

He decided no, but he kept driving to Arizona to inform the city officials in person about his change of heart. They accepted his decision and wished him the best, Lane said.

“The minute I told them and got their reaction, I felt instantly that I had done the right thing,” he said.

Fortunately for him, Haltom City officials had not begun to seriously look for his replacement. He still thinks about retiring in Arizona, however.

“It’s definitely a place I’d look at because of the people, the geography … everything,” he said. “But I probably have 10 to 12 years in me.”

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