With the community’s trust in the Horse Cave Police Department damaged in the wake of an investigation that resulted in one officer being fired and the police chief being put on indefinite leave, the new interim chief wants to restore the department’s reputation.
Heather Childress, who assumed the role June 1, is the department’s first female police chief.
Childress said she’s thankful for the opportunity and appreciates Horse Cave Mayor Randall Curry’s belief in her ability to move the police department forward.
“I’m very appreciative of the faith Mayor Curry has put in me and the trust,” she said.
In 2018, the FBI and Kentucky State Police investigated the HCPD, which included executing a search warrant at the department’s headquarters.
The city fired Officer Larry Dale Martin and placed Chief Sean Henry and Chris Trulock – an officer who has been accused of falsely arresting or using excessive force against people in four federal lawsuits – on indefinite leave pending the investigation’s outcome, the Daily News previously reported.
Childress began her law enforcement career in 2000 and has served as a police officer with the Munfordville and Radcliff police departments and chief deputy with the Hart County Sheriff’s Office. She was hired as a Horse Cave patrol officer Jan. 1.
“I went into law enforcement with the idea that it was something for my community,” she said.
Childress said she originally aspired to be a social worker but decided in college that she was better suited to law enforcement.
“My family was teasing me because I’m a smaller stature female, so there was some concern that I was too small to do the job,” she said.
In addition to being the first female chief, Childress was also the HCPD’s first female officer, as well as the first female officer at the Munfordville Police Department when she was hired there in 2000.
Though well aware of what she called the community’s “trust issues” with the HCPD, Childress said she believes she and the department’s officers can restore the community’s faith.
“I have a good bunch of officers in Horse Cave, and I think if we work together, we can restore the trust of the community,” she said.
To help with that goal, Childress said she intends to make the department more visible with a “coffee with a cop” program, where members of the community can meet with her publicly, and an initiative to have officers give presentations at local schools to establish the department as a positive presence.
Curry said he thought Childress was an ideal choice to serve as interim chief because of her range of experience with various law enforcement agencies.
“I felt like I needed somebody who had the knowledge and experience with law enforcement to move the department in a positive direction,” he said.
Curry also said he likes the ideas that Childress has proposed, adding that a strong bond between a police department and the town it serves is crucial.
“I can see the police department moving in a positive direction,” he said. “Are we there yet? No, we’re not, but I feel like with Heather there, things are going to be a whole lot different here in Horse Cave.”
– Follow Daily News reporter Jackson French on Twitter @Jackson_French or visit bgdailynews.com.