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Good foundation to build on

Brian Stilwell has returned to the place where he worked seven years ago under the leadership of former chief James Henderson, but Stilwell’s responsibilities are different this time.

Stilwell has returned to lead the police force of the county’s largest municipality. He has high expectations for his department.

“I would like us to be the best police department in the county,” he said.

A large number of Clanton’s 20 police officers have been with the department for 10 years or more, and Stilwell said that would help them achieve his goal. Some officers even have as much as 20 years of experience.

“We have a lot of experienced officers for a police department in a city our size,” Stilwell said. “It’s a great asset to have, and that’s something we can build on.”

The new chief plans to meet with each of his officers individually and as a whole to develop goals of how to improve the police department’s service. Some of those goals may include updating equipment and vehicles, which are aging and in need of repair.

For now, Stilwell wants to continue to have his officers work eight-hour shift rotations.

“After we fill a couple of openings, we will have the personnel to continue working eight-hour shifts,” Stilwell said. “The only reason why we would shift to 12-hour days was if we had a smaller team because we wouldn’t be able to staff as many officers as we need on eight-hour shifts.”

“I will do what is best for the department,” he added.

One thing Stilwell also hopes to develop is more community service policing programs to improve the department’s relationships with the community. To do that, he said he wants to bring programs like National Night Out to Clanton, an event in he started in Jemison.

“I want us to let people know in the community why we do what we do,” Stilwell said. “We need to build good relationships out in the community. If you do that, then people will be more apt to defend you rather than criticize you.”

— Brent Maze can be reached at brent.maze@clantonadvertiser.com.