TROUP — Pat Hendrix sat in his office Monday surrounded by knickknacks and stacks of paperwork, all the while a whirling wind sound filled the small Troup Police Department.
“We just had the air serviced and she’s really blowing,” Hendrix, the department’s chief for the past eight years, said laughing.
Hendrix, 47, agreed to sit down and discuss his tenure as the chief and how he has seen the perception of the department evolve from the very first days in office.
Before Hendrix was hired to do the job, the department was in turmoil and shut down for awhile after the long time police chief and other officers were arrested on various charges, including tampering with evidence.
“It was tough when we got down here. I really didn’t know how long I would last or what we could expect,” he said. “All we could do is just keep at it and try to gain the public’s confidence.”
In the first year, the Hendrix team went to work and made 32 drug cases in one sweep.
“It was like everyone was slinging dope down here, so when we made these arrests we really started gaining some confidence and getting the citizens on board. Without them, crimes just do not get solved,” he said.
Hendrix said there are still crimes being committed in his town, as in any town, but that number is way down.
Hendrix said since May 1, 2006 his department has answered more than 10,300 calls for service and made 1,262 arrests.
“We continue to strive to make Troup one of the safest places to live and the Troup Police Department one of the best agencies in the State. In the eight years since we reopened we have made several advancements in investigative technology and equipment at no cost to our citizens and taxpayers,” he said.
Hendrix said the goal of everyone hired in 2006 was to reinvent the Department’s reputation and establish it as a department with one mission in mind, to maintain social order and provide professional law enforcement services to citizens in the community and after eight years that mission still remains.
“I have worked in law enforcement for 28 years, 20 with the Smith County Sheriff’s Office, and I really feel like a proud papa with the department. These guys are the best and three of them have been with me from the start. That says a lot in itself,” he said.
Troup Mayor John Whitsell said the department has made a 180 degree turn since Hendrix took over.
“I do believe there is a different level of trust and another level of respect in our department than in previous years. Our police department is as advanced and on the cutting edge in prevention, and investigation as any city our size,” he said “Pat has years of experience and his team does an outstanding job.”
Whitsell said there always will be naysayers, but said those are typically people who have had dealings with the police department where they were in trouble.
Hendrix said last week he decided to do something to gain more confidence from his residents.
“On every traffic stop last Friday we gave the motorists we pulled over a bag of jelly beans instead of a ticket. Some thought we were punking them, but we really just wanted to make some new connections and hopefully change some opinions about police officers. We want to work with our citizens, never against,” he said.