Reporter: Ellie Mahan
February 15, 2023
Kevin Hughes, who started his first day in his new position as Whitney police chief Tuesday, January 10, spent decades serving in numerous leadership roles at the Richardson Police Department, and he plans to utilize his law enforcement and leadership background while on the job. Hughes, a White Bluff resident, has goals of enhancing community engagement with the Whitney Police Department and obtaining recognition from the Texas Police Chiefs Association.
Hughes said, “If your citizenry is not given opportunities to engage with the police department, I believe that it builds a wall. I want to be known as a chief and as a department that is approachable, that will listen and that will do our best to try to solve whatever issues that the persons present to us.”
Hughes said that the key to community-based policing is establishing an initial rapport with locals and building trust with them day after day. He cited the history of modern policing to explain the importance of locals having input in what the police department does.
Before police departments were formed, citizens enforced the law by making citizens’ arrests. When Sir Robert Peel established the London Metropolitan Police Force in 1829, he became known as the “Father of Modern Policing.” Peel’s principles detail the crucial nature of getting feedback from citizens on the community’s needs. Peel stated that, “police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.”
Hughes said, “As I proceed through my career here, my goal is that the Whitney Police Department would become very community oriented. We are going to be working on neighborhood crime watch programs. I want to work on getting a volunteer program started. I think there are a lot of people in the city who would love to be able to assist the police department in a number of ways.”
The volunteer program Hughes has in mind would allow people to help with maintenance tasks that don’t require a sworn officer, such as making copies, organizing, filing, transporting police vehicles to car washes or places that will change the oil in patrol vehicles.
Taking into account Whitney Police Department’s limited number of officers, Hughes said that creating a volunteer program to assist the department would help maximize the amount of time that officers spend enforcing the laws, making traffic stops and responding to calls.
While Hughes was holding leadership positions at Richardson Police Department, he said he helped strengthen the volunteer program and make it successful. When he left his position as captain, there were over 130 citizens in the Richardson Police Department volunteer program. Some of these volunteers helped the police department for a couple hours a week, while others sometimes volunteered 20 to 30 hours in one week. Hughes has not organized the volunteer program yet but will have applications available after the effort is organized.
Another initiative that Hughes has in mind for the Whitney Police Department is becoming a recognized agency through the Texas Police Chiefs Association. The Texas Police Chiefs Association assessment program examines agencies from top to bottom.
The assessment evaluates all aspects of police departments such as their policies, procedures and equipment, and determines whether departments meet the standard necessary to be recognized. The Texas Police Chiefs Association provides model policies and procedures so that police departments can make improvements in order to meet the standard.
Gaining recognition means that the police department operates completely lawfully and follows the current acceptable practices of policing.
Hughes is familiar with the recognition process, as he was the contact for Richardson Police Department’s recognition program. In 2010, Richardson Police Department became the 22nd agency to be given recognition through the Texas Police Chiefs Association, under the leadership of Hughes.
Hughes believes that being a good cop is like being a good pastor. “You have to have a calling for trying to help your fellow man,” he said. Hughes has had the desire to be a police officer ever since a sheriff’s deputy gave a presentation to Hughes’ boy scouts troop when he was 12 years old.
Hughes grew up in a rural area between Clute and Lake Jackson before attending Texas A&M University as a member of the Corps Of Cadets. He later transferred to Stephen F. Austin State University, where he met his wife of 35 years, Stacy, and he met recruiters from Richardson Police Department.
He started out in Richardson as a patrol officer in 1985. He became a fatality accident investigator and then a field training officer before transferring to the criminal investigations division, where he started off investigating burglary and theft crimes and then later investigated crimes against persons, such as murder and assault.
He was promoted to sergeant in 1992, after scoring 80% or higher on a rigorous test that demanded months of preparation. As a sergeant, he served in both patrol and criminal investigations, where he supervised the crimes against persons unit.
He became a lieutenant in 1997 before finishing his career with Richardson Police Department as a captain from 2002 to 2010. As a captain, he served in all three of the major commands, which are special operations, patrol and investigations.
In addition to his positions as lieutenant and captain, during his last 13 years at Richardson Police Department, he was the SWAT commander. He was also an explosive entry trained expert, which is a training that is crucial for hostage rescues or high-risk situations in which an entrance needs to be breached with an element of surprise.
Hughes said his favorite aspects about the field of law enforcement are “Meeting new people, establishing rapport with those same persons and determining what their needs are and trying to solve and/or deliver the needs that they have at the present time if we get called to intervene.”
Between the years of 2010 and 2020, Hughes left law enforcement to serve as operations manager for a Richardson company called Kit Specialties.
After living part time at White Bluff since 2012, Hughes and his wife moved to White Bluff full time in 2019, where he planned to retire but quickly realized he had more to give to the field of law enforcement.
In 2020, he reactivated his Master Peace Officer License and began working in the Criminal Investigations Division of the Hill County Sheriff’s Office, where he investigated everything from property crimes to homicides.
Hughes said that if he had to give advice to a new police officer, he would repeat an expression his grandmother used to say, “God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason.” He spoke on the importance of listening and striving to understand the whole story so that good, solid determinations can be made.
He said, “Officers are trained and we hire them for their ability to have a commanding presence and take charge of situations and things of that nature, but I think sometimes we as officers air on the side of trying to restore order maybe too quickly, and we don’t really tune in and listen to what is going on in a particular situation.” He went on to say that there are times that demand immediate action and quick steps to restore order however, there are also scenarios that allow time to pause and listen and find out if there is more to the story than what can be seen on the surface. “If you read between the lines, often times you’ll find that the reason you were told you were called might not actually be the reason and the actual problem,” he said.
Police Chief Hughes said he will do his best to listen to issues community members may have, and Whitney residents can set up appointments to meet with him.
“I have an open-door policy. Every time that they knock on the door, I may or may not be available, but if I am not, I will certainly get back to them and get back to them as soon as I’m available,” Hughes said.