By Sylvia Gonzalez
BIG SPRING - The help wanted sign is out in Big Spring. For the first time in 15 years, city leaders are looking for a new Chief of Police. The longest tenured Chief of Police in the history of Big Spring will officially retire on Saturday. Chief Lonnie Smith says most of his success is due to the people who have surrounded him during his career.
"I've been very fortunate in my career as a chief to have quality people in key positions, be it investigations, administrative or positions and the team of people that I had to support me and to work with," Smith said.
Smith says that within his 15 and a half years as Chief of Police in Big Spring there are many things he has accomplished, but perhaps his biggest accomplishment is the Troy M. Hogue Law Enforcement Center, which houses both the Sheriff's Department and the Police Department.
"Material wise this building and consolidating and starting to move in together, establishing the way the sheriff and I have this set up. Yes, it is a major accomplishment," Smith said.
The city is expected to be impacted by an influx of people coming into town due to the oil boom, but even so, the chief believes the department is equipped to handle any type of situation.
"Well with the oil stuff that's coming in, the department is going to be growing, as far as having to do major changes things like that, I believe it will be in a few years before that really becomes necessary," Smith said.
Lt. Chad Williams will serve as the Interim Chief of Police. He has been in law enforcement almost 18 years and says this position will give him a better idea of the responsibilities that come with the job. Whether or not Williams is selected to fill the role permanently, he plans to leave things as they are until changes are needed.
"Do I have any immediate areas that I am gonna change? No. As things arise I think the city of Big Spring is going through changes and looking at possible growth and we'll have to adjust," Williams said.
As for Chief Smith, he says he is grateful for everyone who has been there for him for the last 35 years.