Friday, January 21, 2011

TOP STORY > >Ready to retire, Sims packs pistol

Leader staff writer

Lt. Ed Sims retires at the end of January after 20 years and eight months with the Cabot Police Department.

“It’s time,” he said Thursday. “I’ve had enough of police work for a while.”

Sims said he plans to do very little for the rest of the winter, but when spring comes he’ll plant his half-acre garden of peas, corn and beans just as he has for many years. Maybe he’ll eventually go fishing and he’ll probably do a little target shooting in his backyard.

Sims, 59, is the fifth police officer in the department to reach the rank of lieutenant but the first to test and interview into the position. And on Monday night, he became the first police officer to be awarded his service weapon upon retirement.

Lt. Sherman Malcolm was the only other lieutenant to retire. Sims said Malcolm didn’t get his service weapon because it already belonged to him.

“(Twenty years ago) they gave us a flashlight. That was it,” Sims said. “We bought our own gun, gun belt and handcuffs.”

The department was different when he started from now in a lot of ways, he said. Then, there were 10 employees including the police chief. Now, there are 37.

There were fewer regulations then but also less crime. Of course, the population was about one-third what it is now, so that accounts in part for the increased crime, he said.

“We’ve got a lot more people to cover and a lot more area to cover,” he said. “We’ve got some violent crimes, a few murders and a few robberies.”

The official title of the job Sims does for the department is professional-standards officer. In addition to making sure police officers get the training they need, he’s the one who makes sure they get higher pay for that training. He also is over dispatchers, the jail and school- resource officers.

Who moves into Sims’ slot will be determined by tests and interviews.

Police Chief Jackie Davis started testing for promotions when he became head of the department because he said even though the good-ole-boy system had always been responsible for his promotions, he knew it wasn’t really fair.

Now officers take tests to determine if they are qualified and then interview before a board made up of officers from the Cabot Police Department and other departments.

The handgun that Sims was given Monday night during the council meeting was the Glock Model 23 that he carried for 10 years, not the one he is currently using.

Davis said the department traded in their old Glocks six months ago but kept the one Sims had been using to give him when he retired.

Both Davis and Sims said Sims didn’t want to take a new weapon from the department that might be needed.

But Sims said his old Glock, which holds 13, 40-caliber rounds, is in good condition and he’ll use it for target practice in his backyard.

“I like to shoot,” he said.

In addition to being the first police officer to be awarded his service weapon, Sims will likely be the only one to receive the award before guidelines are established.

Davis has included proposed guidelines in the packet that will be discussed during next Monday’s meeting of the council’s fire and police committee.

The proposed guidelines in-clude these recommendations for the committee to consider:

The officer must have served at least 15 consecutive years as a sworn Cabot police officer.

The officer cannot be the suspect of any investigation (criminal or administrative) by this or another agency.

The officer cannot be seeking early retirement as a result of a mental condition. Any stress- related retirement would require a clearance letter from a doctor or authorized attending professional.

But even without the policy in place, there’s no need for any concern. Sims is good to go, the chief said. He meets every one of the proposed requirements.