On Jan. 2, former Yuma, Ariz. police patrol officer Cory Williams will become Holcomb’s new chief of police, filling a position that has sat empty since the former chief resigned in January of this year.
Williams, no stranger to southwest Kansas, will become the only full-time officer in the long-understaffed department, which also employs two part-time officers.
From a well-rounded résumé to plans for expanded community involvement, Williams sat down with The Telegram to discuss his plans for the department.
What made you want to apply for this position?
Williams: I’ve been in law enforcement for a little over nine years, and southwest Kansas is kind of home for me and my wife, and we were kind of looking to come back this way where our family is ...
Before you worked in Yuma, you worked at several different departments in our area. Can you tell us a little about your background?
Williams: ... I was an officer in Ulysses a little over two years, and then I transferred out to Yuma, Ariz., where I have been an officer all the way until current ... Prior to law enforcement, I did fire rescue (and) EMS. I worked a lot with Grant County EMS and Stanton County EMS and Stanton County Fire Department. So, I kind of have a lot of medical and fire rescue in my background, too, besides law enforcement.
Are those skills — fire, EMS — things you plan to incorporate into your position in Holcomb?
Williams: Yeah. My thoughts are Holcomb is a small department. I started out in a small department and kind of from the area, so I’m a little familiar with the whole atmosphere ... I think the main thing when I get on board is being able to hopefully get fully staffed at the department, where we can lighten the load on the Finney County Sheriff’s Department and be able to take care of the calls ...
Understaffing has been a problem at the Holcomb Police Department for months, and you’re going to be the department’s only full-time officer. Do you have any concerns entering a work environment like that, or do you have any plans to address staffing?
Williams: Yeah, it does raise a little concern being the only full-time ... The biggest thing we want is officer safety, and we need to be able to have the correct amount of officers to be able to successfully complete our jobs and help make the town a safe community and safe place for families to raise their kids.
Do you have any goals in that area? What does fully staffed look like to you?
Williams: I got to get there ... and talk with (city leaders) on that to actually set a number of how many officers we need to be able to complete the job efficiently.
And goals for the community, I am very big on being involved in the community ... Because having the community work together, that’s how we deter crime, because the community is actually the eyes and ears that help us be able to do our job ...
Mayor Brian Rupp spoke about some community programs you were involved with in Yuma. Could you tell us more about those?
Williams: Yeah, it’s called the Crime Free Multi-Housing program and I was the coordinator for that … With the Crime Free program, with us working with the manager, they allow us and communicate with us if there’s issues. They’re able to get those people evicted that are causing problems there so we can make it a safer place ... I think that would be something good I would like to get started there in Holcomb.
One of the other things I was really involved in was I was the coordinator for our department for Special Olympics. We … did a lot of volunteer work on raising funds and awareness for our Special Olympics athletes to help them get a chance to participate in Olympic-style games, get out amongst other athletes, and trying to break that barrier of being nervous and feeling like they’re left out and letting them know they’re no different from anybody else. That was a really great, rewarding community involvement for me. I really enjoyed it, and they pretty much became family for me out there …
I also helped out with our Explorer Program, where ... we had like a class all day for (students) interested in law enforcement. They get to study and learn about the laws and do different things, see what officers do. They help out with volunteer work and community services. Police Explorers kind of get the feel and understanding what goes on being a law enforcement officer, so hopefully one day they may choose that career and continue to follow that past ...
What would programs like those look like in Holcomb?
Williams: ... It’s going to take a couple more officers to help … I think it would be an awesome opportunity for the town of Holcomb. It will start out small. It’s not going to be a quick process, but I think eventually over time, I see it being very successful in the area.
You’ve spent the past few years in a larger metro area. Is there anything you think you can bring to a smaller, rural department, and especially to Holcomb?
Williams: Yeah. I’ve been out there. I’ve had the opportunity in several different departments. I started out as a patrol officer and a neighborhood school resource officer. I was a DUI officer. I was on the special enforcement unit team, which is also known as a SWAT team. I was a hostage negotiator ... I was in the special operations group, where we deal more with the gang issue and narcotics and stuff like that ... So I’ve had a lot of advanced training ... I think with all the training and different ideas that I’ve been through, and the types of calls I’ve experienced, I think I can bring a lot of that knowledge and experience to Holcomb to help not only better the department, but future officers that come on the department ...
This is your first time as chief. What do you think has prepared you for the job?
Williams: I am very community driven ... I’m very involved and know how to communicate with the public. I have the experience overseeing other officers and being able to manage and help. I feel like I have that experience that I can provide the City of Holcomb ...
Are there any changes you want to bring to the department?
Williams: ... You know, it’s kind of hard to give you an idea of what we’re going to work on. The biggest thing is getting there, getting my feet wet, get the feel of things, and then progress from there to see what we need to do.
Contact Amber Friend at email@example.com.