Almost four months since the departure of Al Brown, new Rusty Lewis wore a uniform shirt which displayed his rank of chief for the first time on Oct. 31.
Lewis has finally moved all of his work equipment and other necessary items into the chief’s office at the city’s municipal complex, although he said he still needs to add some furniture to the office.
“I’m trying to get caught up on a lot of stuff,” said Lewis. “I’ve got a pending jail inspection coming up so I’m trying to get things ready for that. There’s all kinds of little details that have been falling through the cracks. I’m still trying to get things figured out.”
Lewis, who was initially interim chief when Brown left for an investigator job with the Logan County Sheriff’s office, was sworn in as chief at the August meeting of the Booneville City Council.
Since then time for adjustment has been at a premium. Almost immediately things heated up as the city was the scene of a manhunt for Fort Smith homicide suspect Lewis Shores for two days.
Days later Lewis worked a case in which one person reportedly swallowed between two and three grams of methamphetamine and later died and a second person who apparently swallowed about the same amount was located and treated before he too succumbed to an overdose.
Cases like those, and others, are still being worked by Lewis, who held a dual rank of lieutenant and investigator before being promoted to chief, as the investigator’s role is unfilled.
Lewis said last week he is reluctant to fill the role with an officer who is primarily utilized in patrol because he does not want to create a void in that capacity.
“Basically, I’m doing everything I was before, and being the chief,” said Lewis.
Also complicating that is an uncertainty of who will be making hiring decisions as current Mayor Jerry Wilkins was in a race with four others to hold the office for the next four years.
Given the number of candidates seeking the job a runoff for the office was expected after votes were counted yesterday (Nov. 6).
More changes are anticipated, Lewis said, because he expects another officer to leave the force in January.
Lewis has been with the BPD since 2005. He started as a dispatcher and part time officer and, after attending the Police Academy, became a full time patrolman.
Just three months later he moved into the investigator’s position.