A man who was groomed to be Weatherford’s police chief is leaving the department to pursue a longtime dream: working with the woman he loves.
"I’ve always been thankful for the opportunity to be a police officer for Weatherford," said Deputy Chief Wayne Slimp. "It’s been a good job."
Slimp’s last day at Weatherford Police Dept. is June 15. On June 16, he starts a new job, where his new boss will be his wife of 25 years, Shanna.
The new job won’t necessarily be less stressful, but the stress will be different, said Slimp, 51.
"I’ve been in law enforcement for 28 years," he said. "I had a chance to start a second career and I took it. I’ll be an escrow assistant for her until she can teach me what she knows."
Slimp said he’s "looking forward to being able to finish a job every day. Seems like in law enforcement administration you never finish. It’s a daily, ongoing task. New law, new case law, a never-ending battle to stay on top of things."
Police Chief Mike Manning said that he has mixed feelings about his second-in-command’s decision. He’s happy for Slimp, but unhappy that the department’s future is less certain.
"I’m actually disappointed that he didn’t stay long enough to take my place," Manning said. "That had been the plan from the beginning."
Weatherford Mayor Craig Swancy echoed Manning.
"We had him tagged to be our next police chief," Swancy said. "Leaving now leaves us with a gap."
Being considered for police chief is familiar territory for Slimp. He was the sole other contender for the job when Manning was hired seven years ago. Council members deliberated for days before giving the nod to Manning, who was a 31-year veteran officer in Fort Worth.
"It was a hard choice because Wayne’s got a lot of great things going for him," said former Mayor Dennis Hooks. "Wayne is a very caring professional who takes his job seriously. He has a great personality, is quite a gentleman, and handles his job with great proficiency."
Those character traits and more led Weatherford’s former police chief, turned city manager, Jerry Blaisdell, to promote Slimp to deputy chief just before Manning took over in 2009.
"Wayne’s one of those people who has the right amount of sense of humor along with a professional standard that makes a good mix when working for the public and having people under your command," Blaisdell said. "He could easily have been chief" in 2009.
Manning said he didn’t know Slimp back then. But Blaisdell told him enough about Slimp that Manning agreed when Blaisdell suggested promoting Slimp to deputy chief to help smooth the transition as Manning took over the department. There was no ill will over the recent rivalry.
"Obviously there’s disappointment in not getting a position you’ve applied for, but he never reflected that in any of our interactions," Manning said. "Wayne’s the type of person who, once the decision is made, gets on board and does his best to make the situation work. I think Wayne could do any job that he sets his mind to."
Indeed, Slimp not only excelled at being a deputy chief, but also led the department through technological evolutions. His decision to retire didn’t change that, Manning said.
"Here it is two weeks from his last day and he’s in Plano looking at technology for the department, specifically body cameras and in-car video cameras," Manning said. "We’ve been working for four years trying to obtain funding for body cameras for all front-line officers. We got a grant last year and this year we’re in the finals for another. Wayne has been a pivotal part of that, along with Commander David Smith."
As good as Slimp is around technology, he’s a master at dealing with people, Manning said.
"Wayne will labor over every decision to ensure that he’s being fair and ethical to all involved," Manning said.
A man who grew up in Lipan and is a product of the Santo school district, Slimp moved to Weatherford about 30 years ago, when the city was home to about 12,000. He earned his law enforcement certificate at the Regional Police Academy in Arlington and signed on with WPD in 1988. He’s leaving a department that now serves about 28,000 residents.
He said he will miss the camaraderie of men and women with whom he has served.
"I haven’t yet thought about all the things I’m going to miss," Slimp said. "I’ll remain a reserve officer for Weatherford for some time — I’m not sure how long, but just to keep up my credentials."
Retaining his eligibility for police service is a wise decision on Slimp’s part, sources agreed.
Leaving law enforcement "isn’t something you do lightly," Blaisdell said. "Your identity gets tied up in it and that’s who you are. Breaking away from it isn’t the easiest thing in the world."
Some of Weatherford’s leaders secretly hope Slimp won’t love working at a title company as much as he loves being a cop. He’ll have a couple of years to find out before the department’s big chair is empty.
"I don’t have five more years in me," Manning said. "That would put me at 42 years in this business. I don’t see that happening."