"The only promise I make as the new chief of police is one of professionalism," Cherokee Village Police Chief Jason French said.
French took command as the new police chief Nov. 1 and has not stopped since. French was sworn in by Mayor Lloyd Hefley Nov. 1. His first course of action after being sworn in was to hold a meeting with the officers, which he did Nov. 2.
French said he feels it is important to start with a clean slate and make sure everything is in order. French had the Cherokee Village officers sworn in for Sharp and Fulton counties just to make sure they are authorized to cover their jurisdiction.
"The role of the chief of police encompasses much more than administrative duties in the office," French said. "As a working chief, it is my responsibility to be out in the community establishing a rapport with our businesses, property owners, school officials and full-time residents."
French said he wants to have a good relationship with the residents and gain their trust. "The input from the public will allow the police department to address the true needs of the community, thus improving overall services," French said.
"The police department cannot do it alone, we need the support and collaboration from the community," French said. "I welcome everyone to contact any member of the police department, or me directly, with any suggestions, needs or concerns that they may have." The police department number is 870-257-5225.
French said members of the police department will handle all aspects of their job with professionalism, integrity and accountability. "I would like to thank the current officers for their open-mindedness and their professionalism during the transitional period," French said.
French said he feels the police department is running smoothly and will continue to do so. "I truly appreciate the warm welcome I have received and I look forward to meeting the remaining residents of the Village," French said. "It is my goal to provide the residents of Cherokee Village with the best service possible."
French said his goals can be accomplished through collaboration among council members, volunteers, surrounding agencies and residents of Cherokee Village.
French said he noticed there was not a Memorandum of Understanding on file when he started, which he felt was very important. French explained that since the surrounding towns are so close and often assist each other in situations, it is important to define who is liable in certain situations.
For example, if an Ash Flat officer came into Cherokee's jurisdiction to assist a Cherokee officer and the Ash Flat officer was injured, Cherokee Village could be held accountable.
French said he had the draft of the Memorandum of Understanding approved by the city attorney and Fulton County has already signed it. Ash Flat Police Chief Mike Zeiger and Sharp County Sheriff Dale Weaver have agreed to meet with French and go over the memorandum.
Another problem French has addressed in the past week is the traffic in the Cherokee Elementary school zone. French has had an officer posted in the school zone every morning for the past week which he said has slowed many people down. "There are still some people who are speeding, but we are just monitoring the traffic right now; we will begin traffic stops soon," French said. French said he has made contact with Cherokee Elementary Principal Tracy Webb to discuss the traffic.
"I feel Jason is an excellent candidate for this position," Cherokee Village Mayor Lloyd Hefley said. "He (French) is extremely qualified for this position and we are fortunate to have him."