Lafayette, Louisiana welcomed our new police chief, Thomas Lee Glover, Sr., on December 23, 2020. He joined Jan Swift of Discover Lafayette to discuss what his career in law enforcement has taught him and his belief in the utmost importance of involving the community as a means of enhancing law enforcement effectiveness.
A native of Tallulah, Louisiana with maternal roots from Lafayette, Chief Glover graduated from Grambling State University with a degree in criminal justice. He immediately joined the Dallas Police Department and was with the department on active duty for 36 1/2 years; the day after retiring, he immediately joined the force as a reserve officer performing many of the same duties.
Chief Glover applied for the position of Police Chief because he thought he could make a difference in Lafayette. “I came from a department that mirrored what Lafayette is going through, in Dallas we experienced the same things 25 to 30 years ago. We had the same issues on the table. I was a part of the Police Association that worked to mend the tears in the community. I am very honored to have been selected. I thank Mayor Guillory for employing me as police chief. “
Mending fences in Dallas entailed hiring outside consultants to review policies from top to bottom, especially on the use of deadly force which had disproportionately affected Blacks and Hispanics. The department amended its curriculum to address appropriate training and procedures on the use of force. They also learned the importance of getting the community involved in law enforcement. While the chief says Dallas still has issues and is still working on relationships, they have come a long way, and continue to work on a daily basis to improve relations.
The Chief has learned that community policing is effective; it has been tested and it works in practice. He’s learned firsthand that involving clergy, business owners, and the legal and educational communities with the police department works to take care of social ills works and successfully reduces crime. It helps to have as many eyes as possible watching the streets. “I’d rather have the 132,000 people here in Lafayette with their eyes watching out than to have only 289 officers working on crime,” says Chief Glover.
As a means to encourage community engagement, all Lafayette police officers will be required to attend at least one event per week, be it a Girls Scout meeting, local church events, or other similar happenings. He’s also directing a set of officers to address social ills such as trash not being picked up or code violations. His goal is also to partner with charitable groups such as Catholic Charities of Acadiana to reduce crime and reduce the number of calls coming into the 911 Center.
On community policing: “My analogy is this on how to prevent crime: think about a yard with a lot of weeds growing. You call on your yard person to cut the weeds down but they always come back. Community policing is you calling that lawn person and they treat the yard with weed preventer. And then, you only need the police or the yard guy once every other season. If community policing works like it is designed, the same thing would happen to reduce the need for policing services. Neighborhoods that traditionally have needed policing services would no longer need services because the things that created that need would have been eliminated.”
The chief has respect for every police officer and for all members of our community. He advises his team to treat everyone as if it was their mother, father, sibling, or friend. While the officers are trained in how to deal with mentally ill persons, they can always use more help when a crisis arises. The department has a negotiation team led by co-commanders Sgt. Nicole Oakes and Sgt. Trina Broussard that are trained to look for peaceful resolutions and de-escalate crisis situations before they take a turn for the worse.
Development of a Junior Police Academy is a major priority for Chief Glover and he wants to mirror what professional sports leagues do in developing young talent. He gave an analogy to professional baseball, where young players start in elementary school, then play in middle school, high school, college, the minors and finally the majors. “Police can do the same. We can identify 5th and 6th graders and mentor them through college as they look to become police officers. If we can attract them at an early age, they can learn about the profession and want to become a part of it. They will also learn about all the possible careers in law enforcement….they are dozens of duties within law enforcement and you can have a lifelong career without having to change jobs.”
The chief is also wanting to start a Citizen’s Police Academy so that people from all walks of life can learn how policing works and understand how the department investigates crime, how crimes are prosecuted, and what it is like to be put in a situation in which you may have to use force. The goal is to foster a better understanding between the police and citizens.
In closing, Chief Glover relayed his lifelong love of policing. “It’s a tough job, it’s very demanding. But it is one of the most rewarding things that you can do. You save a life, you help someone, you prevent a crime, you solve a crime, you take a criminal off the street. All of these things are rewarding because you are doing them for the good of society.”
We thank Chief Thomas Glover for his commitment to law enforcement and his service to our community. If you’d like to become more involved, Lafayette has two community relations committees for the Northside and Southside.
We also want to give a shout out to our friends, Lafayette police spokespersons Sgt. Wayne Griffin and Cpl. Bridgitte Dugas for their loyal service!