Villarreal sworn in as police chief

Glenn Parrish
Booneville Police Chief Ben Villarreal (right) shakes hands with District Judge Brian Mueller after a swearing in ceremony for Villarreal last week.

Ben Villarreal has pretty much been running things at the Booneville Police Department for a few months.

The ranking member of the BPD since the resignation of chief Rusty Lewis, Villarreal was officially promoted to the chief role following the monthly meeting of the Booneville City Council last week, drawing an ovation from the council members and a small audience who had attended the meeting.

“I’m a firm believer in promotion. I hate to see a community go out — when you become a policeman your dream is to moving up the ladder — and hire somebody that is not part of the system,” Mayor Jerry Wilkins said before turning the floor over to District Judge Brian Mueller for the swearing-in ceremony. “They work very hard to get to be corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, chief.”

Villarreal has held the rank of lieutenant since December of 2018. He has been with the BPD almost nine years and in law enforcement for almost 11.

Wilkins said the promotion of Villarreal and the recent additions of Michael Keatts, who moved over from Logan County Sheriff’s Office, and Justin Shackleford, who is attending police academy training starting this week, “might turn out to be the best police department the city of Booneville has seen.”

Villarreal said it is his intention for the department to move forward, solve more cases, and turn the town around.

Villarreal is a 2008 graduate of Booneville High School.