An interim police chief has been chosen for the Cedarville Police Department to replace the former chief who was fired Oct. 2.
Joseph "Joe" Johnson was sworn in Oct. 5 as interim police chief, just three days after former chief Mark Gentry was fired and six officers resigned from the Cedarville Police Department.
Gentry was hired mid-August to replace David Goss, who stepped down as chief June 10 while struggling to recover from neck surgery. While Mayor Glenanna O’Mara chose not to comment on why Gentry was fired, she said that Gentry had done "no wrongdoing of any kind in the department."
After losing two police chiefs in a matter of months, Johnson has been hired on probationary terms, he said, "to make sure it works out."
In a letter introducing himself to city officials and Cedarville residents, Johnson listed several goals he has for the department.
Those goals include building confidence and trust within the community, ensuring school safety, having residents take an "active role" in crime prevention and for himself to act a "servant" to city residents.
He also plans to rebuild the department staff, and three fully certified reserve officers already have been hired to replace those who left after Gentry was fired, he said. Another reserve officer and a part-time officer remained on staff.
"My hopes are to make [CPD] one of the better departments in the county and this part of the state, as best that we can with the resources that are provided to us for the size of the city," Johnson said.
Johnson has more than 25 years of experience in protective services, he said. Since 1999, Johnson has headed his own private-investigation firm in Greenwood, worked security at Mercy Fort Smith and Sparks Regional Medical Center, and became certified in 2010 to serve as a full time as a police officer in Central City.
"With those total years of experience, I bring to this position not only the skills needed to serve and protect the citizens of Cedarville, but also the administrative skills needed to run the police department with efficiency and confidence," Johnson wrote in his letter. "It is my goal to build up the police department and make it a shining example of good quality police work and service to the citizens that we can all be proud of."
In 2011, Johnson began work with G4S Secure Solutions in Arkansas, where he is a current site supervisor.
Johnson has a wife, Robin, two stepdaughters, ages 12 and 8, a 10-year-old stepson and a 12-year-old daughter.