Photo by Michael Buckelew
COVINGTON -- Covington Police Department Chief Stacey Cotton has made some strategic changes in the positions filled by his command staff.
"It's just a continuation of the development of leadership and cross-training," he said. "It's nothing new. I do it about every three to four years, although it's been about five years now since I've made a change ... Every few years I believe in taking the command staff which is captains, lieutenants and sergeants and moving them to different assignments so they don't get stagnated in the area they're in.
Cotton said he felt the changes were important to the officers' career development.
"For example, if a captain or a lieutenant is just in patrol their whole career, that's all they'll ever know," he said. "But if I can take a patrol
supervisor and move him into investigations for a few years, he learns the process of investigation. Later on, say he moves back to patrol, he has a better understanding of what information the investigator may need from patrol. Therefore, his effectiveness as a supervisor is better because when he's looking at a crime scene and directing his officers what to do and what evidence to collect, he's thinking, 'Well, I know what they're going to need in investigations. Let's do it that way."
Cotton said he knows for a fact that the cross-training works.
"The best investigators, the best detectives are those who have patrol experience, whether it be at the Covington Police Department, the GBI or FBI," Cotton said. "Remember, investigators are showing up at the crime scene well after the fact, where the patrolman is there sometimes as the scene is still in progress."
Cotton said the change was also necessitated by the retirement of two long-time officers -- Capt. Barney Anglin and Capt. Willie Davis -- which created two vacancies in the top command staff comprised of the chief, assistant chief and four captains.
Lt. Philip Bradford, who is commander of the Covington/Newton County Special Investigations Unit, was promoted and will move to captain in charge of the Criminal Investigations Division. Capt. Ken Malcom, who is currently over the Patrol Division, will move to the Support Services Division. Capt. Craig Treadwell, now in charge of CID, will move to the Patrol Division. For the time being, the fourth spot will remain vacant.
Cotton explained the significance of the three divisions.
"Obviously, patrol is the biggest division and the one that carries out the main mission of the department which is uniform patrol," he said. "CID does our investigative follow up and specializes in the prosecution of those major cases. And Support Services is the one a lot of people don't hear about and that is the one that handles the administrative side of the police department. That's where we do our accreditation, hiring, recruitment, purchasing and records management. When you come down to the station to get a copy of a report or pay a traffic fine, that's Support Services."
Cotton said community outreach would also be handled out of Support Services which would include programs such as Neighborhood Watch and safety presentations to civic groups and the like.
He said the joint Special Investigations Unit would in all probability have a new commander appointed for the day-to-day operations and he and Sheriff Ezell Brown are presently working on that.
The changes will be effective April 18.
Cotton said he was cognizant of the fact that budget constraints and other financial considerations are at the forefront of everyone's mind, but said he believed the CPD could still fulfill its mission of excellence.
"My whole philosophy and the way we've redeployed everybody is to run lean and focus on the mission which is patrol and the services to the community ... being visible to the citizens, focus on investigations, focus on community outreach and support services," he said. "We're going to focus on the basics and be excellent in what we do. What we need to be able to do today is to answer the calls for service which are continuing at a high level. We need to be able to investigate things efficiently and effectively and in the support area, we need to be as efficient as we can ... make sure that we're doing everything we're supposed to do."