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Danny Wright may not be sworn in as Rockwood’s new police chief until July 1, but he already has a lot in mind for the department.
He recently met with the city’s officers and gave them some idea of what is to come.
He explained what he has planned to Rockwood City Council recently as well.
“It is not a job; it is not an occupation,” Wright said of police work.
“It is a profession.”
He would know, having spent more than 30 years in law enforcement, including investigations work with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
He made a good impression on council members, including Vice Mayor Peggy Evans.
“He’s going to be great,” Evans said.
Having a more visible presence in the community is important to Wright.
“I’ve told them basically they are serving the community,” he said. “The community is not serving them.
“We are going to be more involved in the community.”
Wright said being involved in the community and using its members as assets is how crimes are solved.
He said he expects officers to go through neighborhoods and take time to even stop and talk to neighbors.
“They may see something and may be more inclined to call if they’ve made that personal contact with that officer,” Wright said.
One change he has in mind will be immediately obvious: Wright wants the officers to go to the sentry-style police hat, an old style reminiscent of “The Andy Griffith Show.”
He said those hats make a police officer more identifiable, especially in a crowd situation.
He also said they plan to increase their online presence as well.
Wright said he has no plans to change personnel.
Wright also hopes to use his connections as a retired special agent with the TBI to keep in the know about training opportunities.
One he already knows about: a TBI academy and investigator training that would cost the city nothing.
“It is hard to expect someone to do the job if you haven’t taught them how to do it,” Wright said.
He also wants to do two personnel reviews a year.
“If you’re doing things wrong, how do you know what you have to improve upon if nobody ever tells you you are weak in those areas?” he said.
Wright stressed he isn’t trying to step on the toes of his predecessors, including present Police Chief Bill Stinnett, who is stepping down to department captain.
Instead, Wright said, he has his own vision for moving forward with the department.
One thing he hopes the community will understand is that investigations can take a lot of time.
“To build a good case, particularly a good narcotics case and sometimes a homicide case, sometimes the investigation process is slow,” he said. “I am slow, because I want to do it the right way.
“When you get in a hurry, you make mistakes. When you make mistakes in court, things get thrown out,” he added.
“You always had the goods,” said city attorney Greg Leffew about Wright’s cases.
Wright also wants to send a message to repeat offenders in the community that the police will be watching them.