Thursday, July 27, 2006

TOP STORY>>Beebe mayor names a new police chief

Leader staff writer

Beebe Mayor Donald Ward has appointed Don Inns to replace Jess Odom as police chief.

He made the announcement Friday morning during a press conference called for that purpose and to present Odom with a shadow box holding his police chief badge.

Inns, 41, has been with the police department six years, starting in 2000 as a part-time officer while he worked fulltime as maintenance supervisor for the Beebe School District. At the same time, he was a volunteer EMT and firefighter for the Beebe Fire Department.

He went full-time for the police department in 2003 and rose quickly through the ranks.

For the first 10 months after he went full-time, he was part of a Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Adminis-tration drug task force. Then Odom brought him back to the de-partment as a sergeant over narcotics and criminal investigation. At the beginning of the year when Sgt. Corey Simmons who was over patrol left the department, Inns was promoted to lieutenant and took over Simmons’ duties as well.

In making the announcement, Ward said he looked first at those already working for the city and Inns was the obvious choice.
“He came from the bottom and worked his way to the top,” Ward said. “People who give their all need to be rewarded.”

How long Inns remains the chief will depend upon the next mayor, who gets to choose his own chief.

Ward isn’t running for a third term and former Mayor Mike Robertson, who now serves on the city council, is the only announced mayoral candidate.

Robertson, the only council member who attended the press conference, said he thought Inns was a good choice for the job and he thinks the rest of the council does as well.

He wouldn’t say whether he will keep Inns as police chief if he is elected mayor in November. It’s against state law to make such promises, he said.

Odom said during the press conference that he also is pleased with his replacement.

Odom presented Inns with his new chief’s badge, saying Inns had been a big help to him.

“He knows everybody in this city, it seems like. And that was very beneficial to the chief,” Odom said. Robertson took the praise for Inns a step further.

“He’s accommodating,” Ro-bertson said. “So many times you see those who aren’t.”

It was definitely appropriate for Ward to name Inns as chief, he said. But for the next five months he and the rest of the council will be watching him to see what kind of chief he makes.

The next five months are a trial period for Inns, Robertson said, “I think that’s what a lot of people are expecting this time to be,” he said.

Odom, 57, who has worked in law enforcement for 32 years, including 10 as White County sheriff, retires at the end of July to take a job as a private investigator.

Odom has said investigation was always his favorite part of the work. He never liked working traffic, he has said.
He’s not a dog, he has said. He doesn’t like to chase cars.

He will be working out of the Searcy office of Hopkins & Associates, doing investigation for corporate lawsuits.
Inns moved to Beebe in 1982 and graduated from Beebe High School in 1983.

He says he went into law enforcement for the same reason he became a firefighter, to help others.

Although Odom’s official retirement date is July 31, he is on terminal leave already and Inns is running the department.

He said after the official announcement that he intends to make subtle changes in how the department operates.

Inns wants to streamline patrol and try to make budget cuts, which will be important for next year’s budget.

He has no plans to immediately fill his position, Inn said.

He intends to keep doing much of that work himself while training employees already with the department to help with paperwork.