Larry Lindsey doesn’t hesitate to answer the hard questions.
Sitting behind his wooden, L-shaped desk Tuesday morning, he is matter-of-fact as he talks about recent changes to his department.
“Sometimes you have to make changes to get the results you want,” Covington’s new police chief says.
The changes are what he’s calling restructuring – eliminating, transferring, promoting – within his ranks.
“I eliminated the two assistant chiefs’ jobs and they’ve returned to patrolman positions. I felt like this was one of the changes that needed to take place – there’s no need for two assistant chiefs, that’s too top heavy.”
The two assistant chiefs – Allen Wilson and Cavat Bass – were both promoted to the position in April 2012 under then-chief Tim Glass. Both are nearing retirement and have been employed with the department longer than some of its younger officers have been alive.
Wilson has been employed with the department since 1987, when it was housed on the highway near Spring Street. As assistant chief he oversaw the investigative division.
Bass was hired in 1990 and has broken many racial barriers. He became the first African-American to become lieutenant, captain and assistant chief. For the last seven years he’s been over the patrol division.
The former assistant chiefs will continue at the same pay rate for the next two months.
The next-highest ranking officer is now Captain Jay Black, who is over both patrol and investigations.
Under Black are Lt. Larry McGarity, who received a lateral transfer and will now oversee the patrol division, and Lt. Jack Howell, who was promoted from detective and will manage investigations.
“Moving McGarity, that’s about freshness and opportunity as commander over patrol,” says Lindsey. “That’s not unusual in today’s law enforcement across the country. We’re taking an individual who has a lot of experience (in investigations) and moving him to a new command so he can get experience in a different atmosphere.”
In his opinion, having a lieutenant over each division brings the command closer to officers and day-to-day operations.
“We’ll get better communication with the lieutenants actively involved and it’ll push the decision making down the ranks.”
There was also an open corporal position in patrol and Jonathan Lightsey has been promoted to fulfill that rank.
There are currently five vacancies – two officers resigned and three left to become sheriff’s deputies – and he said he is no rush to fill them with just anyone.
“The level of officer I’m trying to bring on board is going to be high caliber. It’s going to take longer to fill these spots, but the long-term benefit is we’ll have well-established, high quality officers with morals, values, good ethics. That’s what I want on board under my command.”
Two certified officers are set to begin on Oct. 13 and three others, who are not yet certified, are being considered for the remaining positions.
“I want the Covington Police Department to become the premier law enforcement agency in the county,” he says. “I want our officers to have pride, to be proud to work for Covington, because pride makes a difference. I don’t like the term ‘morale,’ I like ‘spirit’ better, and and I want to change the spirit of the organization.”
Of the changes, he said they’ve been difficult decisions to make, but he was hired to make them.
“I didn’t sleep that night, it was hard, but we needed new direction and we needed change. Across the board that was obvious and change starts from the top. This is just the beginning stages of my vision for the future.”