Interim Police Chief RJ Adams said he has been re-energized since coming out of retirement to serve, and he looks to address some concerns within the police department.
“I’ve been re-energized, I guess you could say. It’s something I enjoyed while I was doing it,” he said. “Now that I’m back, I’ve got my feet back into it, and I’m looking forward to moving on.”
Adams said the biggest change in the department he’s noticed since he retired in 2015 is the amount of experience lost along the way.
“The main thing that I see is we’ve lost a lot of experience due to retirement or other reasons. That’s the biggest thing I see,” said Adams. “Of course, some of the laws have changed and policy has changed to accommodate new laws. Keep in mind, I’ve only been back a few days now, so I’m sure there’s more to pick up on the longer I stay.”
When asked how he plans to improve the department, Adams said police can have better relations with the public.
“From what I’ve heard before I came back — in the media, on the street, or the coffee shops — I think we can have better relations with the public and do our job more thoroughly. I think talking to somebody for five minutes and moving onto somebody else is not really the way to do business. I think we need to find out what the big picture is and try to help them with it as best we can.”
Adams said some of these struggles has been due to a lack of staffing.
“We’ve been short for a couple of years now on manpower. Hopefully, we can address that soon,” he said. “The more people you’ve got, the more thorough you can be in doing your job.”
The interim chief said aside from completing daily duties and serving the community, his main goal is to get the department fully staffed. Adams’ first move in doing so was hiring former Kosciusko police investigator Greg Collins, who had previously left the department in January.
“My goal first and foremost is completing the day-to-day operations of the police department. Of course, protecting and serving. After that, to do it how we need to do it, my goal is to get us fully staffed from patrol to investigations,” said Adams. “I think we took care of one (at the alderman meeting) by hiring another investigator. We have one, and he’s done a great job so far, but one investigator can’t do what we’ve got to do.”
The other investigator on staff is Devontae Lewis.
“He’s doing a great job,” said Adams. “A lot of energy. The more time he gets under his belt, the better he’s going to be.”
Adams said Elizabeth Miller is taking on more of an administrative role, but she is capable of performing various responsibilites.
The interim chief said he was impressed to return and see officers who stuck around and are still highly motivated to do their job.
“As I said, we’ve been shorthanded for a while at the PD, and it puts a hardship on the officers and the families they’ve got when they’ve got to work a lot of overtime. They get tired like anybody would working more hours than they should work, so I appreciate the motivation they still have to do their job well. That has impressed me a lot. The guys that stuck it out here in carrying on with their duties day-to-day, plus others’ duties that have left, it says a lot about them. These guys don’t do it for the money. They do it because they’re highly motivated.
He added that the department’s morale can be streaky, which is a reason he would like to get staffing back up to speed.
“Certain days it’s good, and certain days it’s bad — like any job, I guess,” said Adams. “Under the conditions they’ve been working under, by that I mean overtime, I think the morale is good. But these guys would be motivated digging ditches. These guys are naturally motivated.”
Adams said he is glad to be back leading the department for a while, and he feels he can contribute a lot due to his experience.
“I was here 20-some-odd years and spent a good many years on the street. I grew up in the community and I care about it. It’s not just a job to me,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong — the check is nice, and the work is nice. I like to stay busy, and doing something you know how to do and love to do is great. We have good people to work with up here. The people we work with day-to-day feel the same way I do, most of them. They care about the city, and that means a lot.”