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Q&A: Six months on job, police chief is moving Willow Park forward

Chief Carrie West
Chief Carrie West

In January, Carrie West became the new police chief for the city of Willow Park. She replaced Brad Johnson, who resigned after nine years to move closer to his mother, who is in a nursing home in Kerrville.

West is a 1989 graduate of Fort Worth Paschal High School and a graduate of the University of Texas-Arlington and the Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas.

While working in Corinth she was named Officer of the Year in 2001 and Supervisor of the Year in 2009. She has also served as a volunteer in the Northwest Independent School District and on the City of North Richland Hills Teen Court Advisory Board.

This is West's first time to serve as a police chief. She took office Jan. 17. Now, at the six-month mark of her term, she agreed to answer a few questions concerning her goals for the city, diversity in law enforcement and more:

WST: What have you found to be your biggest challenge on the job so far?

CW: One of the greatest challenges I have encountered so far as chief of police is learning the inner workings of the governmental operations of Parker County and the City of Willow Park. I have been received with open arms from the community since beginning my tenure with the Willow Park Police Department. I strive daily to immerse myself in becoming acclimated with the city and its residents and returning the same respect and hospitality.

WST: What have you found to be the biggest asset/benefit of being the city's chief?

CW: The biggest benefit is the opportunity to utilize my leadership and management abilities to lead the men and women of the police department and serving the citizens of Willow Park.

WST: What major goals have you set for city of Willow Park in law enforcement?

CW: The goals that have been set are too numerous to mention, but I will highlight the ones of greatest importance. New policies and procedures are being developed and implemented to govern the daily operations of the Willow Park Police Department. It is paramount in this day and age to have policies that evolve as needs progress.

The ultimate goal is to become one of the few law enforcement agencies in Texas recognized by the Texas Police Chief’s Best Practices and Recognition Program. We are working together with the Willow Park Fire Department and the architects chosen by the council to design our new public safety facility.

WST: What would you say is your greatest accomplishment since you came on-board?

CW: Since beginning my tenure as Chief, the greatest accomplishment thus far has been purchasing duty weapons, duty belts and required accessories for issuance to the officers of the Willow Park Police Department. A complete duty rig, including the firearm can exceed $1,000. Not only is this an added incentive to attract potential employees as most other agencies in the area offer issued equipment, but it also expresses uniformity.

WST: As a woman police chief, do you see the need for more women in law enforcement? Do you see a growth/progress in that area locally, statewide, nationwide?

CW: Beginning my law enforcement career in the mid-90s, I have seen increased diversity in law enforcement, though it is still not representative of the population it serves. So, yes, law enforcement has progressed over the last 20 years, but there is room for improvement.

In recent years, there have been strides to bring females into the profession and to encourage females to promote into executive levels. There are organizations, conferences and the Law Enforcement Management Institute (LEMIT) has a Leadership Inventory for Female Executives (L.I.F.E). There are also events locally to bring women in law enforcement together for career enrichment and networking such as the Women of Law Enforcement Conference.

WST: How has your previous experience helped you adjust to being chief?

CW: I have worked for five different chiefs during my career and each one has strengths from which I was able to learn. I also had the opportunity to work in a variety of assignments throughout my career that sharpened my skills and provided me with the skill set necessary to handle a wide variety of topics such as incidents in the field, community relations and personnel matters. Some of the assignments I have had include patrol, school resource officer, investigator, and commanding both field operations and support services.

WST: Where would you like to see the department and the city of Willow Park be in five years? 10 years?

CW: The City of Willow Park and the Willow Park Police Department have an amazing potential for growth. Eastern Parker County is a great location to foster this. In five years, I would like to see the city’s business and residential communities prosper, increasing the quality of life within the city. I would like to see growth in the police department to include more officers in patrol and criminal investigations, but also for implementation of community programs such as a citizens police academy, an alumni association and volunteers in police service.

In 10 years, I would like to see the previous growth maintained and the quality of life to continue to be high for our residential and business owners. I would also like to see the community programs continue to thrive.

WST: Any additional thoughts?

CW: I am extremely thankful for the opportunity and trust placed in me to serve as the chief of police of Willow Park. The city and the community have been very gracious and welcoming, and I am humbled by the outpouring of support.

I have to say without a shadow of a doubt that accepting the position of Willow Park police chief has been my best career move so far. I am happy to be a member of the Willow Park family.