Sunday, June 01, 2014

TOP STORY >> Interim chief appointed as Sipes leaves

Leader staff writer

Capt. Kenny Boyd, a 26-year veteran of the Jacksonville Police Department and an FBI Academy graduate, has been selected to serve as interim chief through Jan. 1 or longer, according to Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher.

Former Police Chief Gary Sipes gave up the post Friday to focus on his run for mayor in November. He and Fletcher said they agreed on the resignation date.

Boyd wants residents to know “it’s business as usual” while he’s in charge.

About being selected, he said, “I was humbled, excited that they had the confidence in me to allow me to continue the service this police department provides for the citizens of Jacksonville. I want the citizens to know that the service will continue in a professional manner.”

Boyd is interested in applying to be the permanent chief, but said serving as the interim chief gives the city a chance to try him out and him a chance to try out the position.

Boyd also said officials had not decided yet who would step up to run the support services division in his stead.

Boyd’s management philosophy is “the leader has to set the example. If you believe in your philosophy of serving the citizens of Jacksonville and stand by that, then others will get on board with that.

He continued, “Based on my experience, you’ve got to communicate. Whether it’s through the citizens or internally, it’s all about communication…Communication is paramount in this business.”

He also said, “We’ve come a long way and we’re going to continue to move forward so we can provide the citizens of this city the service and protection that they deserve.”

Boyd added that he thinks the staff is already on board.

“The support from everyone at the police department has been great. I expect that to continue without any problems. It’s all about serving the citizens. We’ve got to be able to hear them and hear their concerns and do what we can to assist them,” he said.

Fletcher said he also interviewed Patrol Capt. Richard Ward and Criminal Investigations Capt. Kelley Smiley. “I’m very excited that I had three top-notch people to choose from,” he noted.

But “he’s the one I felt needed to be there,” Fletcher said. “I have full confidence that Chief Boyd will continue the highest level of professionalism…I’m excited about the future of our police department, and they’re in good hands.”

The mayor added that any of the three captains would have done a great job running the department.

Fletcher noted that Boyd served as interim chief before Sipes was hired in 2008.

“One thing that I really liked in our interview is he brought some fresh ideas, some fresh eyes to old things that have concerned me,” he continued.

The mayor also said it’s not a one-man job. He was confident that Boyd, Ward and Smiley would work well together.

Boyd agreed. The interim chief said, “We’re going to carry on as a team.”

Fletcher said Boyd brings a lot of experience to the table and is well respected by everyone in the department.

Boyd is from Austin and graduated from Cabot High School.

His law enforcement career began in 1988 when he was hired as a Jacksonville patrol officer.

Boyd has never applied to work in another police department because of the “camaraderie” he felt in Jacksonville.

He said, “Even though I did not grow up here, I still consider Jacksonville as my town. This is where I spend all my hours.”

Boyd transferred to the criminal investigations division in 1989.

He helped investigate the 1993 murders of Debra Reese and Christine Lewis, daughter of the late Alderman Robert Lewis. Ledelle Lee was convicted of the Reese murder and two rapes, but is also suspected of killing Christine Lewis. Lee received the death penalty and is awaiting execution.

But unsolved cases — like Margie Thompson’s murder — and cases that involved kids stay with him too, Boyd said.

Asked about mistakes he’s made, Boyd said nothing stands out.

But, he explained, police officers always think about the what ifs — what if they’d gotten to a scene sooner or done this or that.

“You just have to move on,” Boyd said.

He worked as a detective until 1993, when he was promoted to sergeant for the patrol division.

Boyd returned to the criminal investigations division in 1994.

He was promoted in 2001 to the rank of lieutenant and transferred to the training and community-oriented policing section.

Boyd transferred again in 2005 to serve as the assistant patrol commander. That was a lateral move rather than a promotion, he noted.

Boyd was promoted to his current rank of captain in 2007. He has been captain of the department’s three divisions — patrol, criminal investigations and support services.

In 2011, Boyd graduated from the 10-week FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va. He called doing so one of his greatest triumphs.

Boyd has also completed management courses through the Criminal Justice Institute and the School of Law Enforcement Supervision.

He is a member of the FBI National Academy Associates Arkansas Chapter and the Arkansas Association of Chiefs of Police.

Boyd has been married to Jacksonville officer Regina Boyd for 29 years. They have a 22-year-old daughter.

And the interim chief has been coaching youth football in Cabot for eight years.

During his junior and senior year of high school, Boyd worked for an egg processing plant.

He has also been a volunteer firefighter since age 17.

After graduating from high school, Boyd worked as a welder for a few years.

Then his wife was hired as a dispatcher for the Lonoke Police Department.

Boyd said he got to know the Lonoke chief and rode with him until something clicked.

The interim chief said he liked what he saw and went into law enforcement to do something different every day.

“You get to help people. You may not ever know that you helped them. Usually, when we’re dealing with someone, it’s at a low point in their life. So you have to have compassion to do this job,” he continued.

Boyd also said, “(Law enforcement) gets in your blood. That’s where it’s at. You just don’t feel right not doing it.”