Paul retires as Pineville police chief; Murdock named interim chief

By Bill Sumrall
The Light

PINEVILLE — Family, friends and fellow officers honored Police Chief Jesse Terral Paul with an afternoon retirement party Tuesday, April 13.

“He is one of the most honest, fairest persons there is,” said Evelyn Mitchell, a telecommunications officer with the Pineville Police Department for 15 1/2 years, who was among more than 60 people at the City Hall’s Council chamber event.

“He’s been a wonderful co-worker as well as a chief. He doesn’t expect anything out of his employees that he doesn’t do himself,” Mitchell said.

Tuesday was Paul’s last day to work but Friday, April 16, marks his official retirement day as Pineville’s top cop since April 2008.

But the 53-year-old veteran of almost 30 years in the police department said in an interview that he’s taking off a few vacation days in between.

Paul was named interim police chief Aug. 15, 2007, before being appointed chief and at Tuesday’s later Pineville’s City Council meeting Assistant Police Chief Rusty Murdock was named as interim police chief until a new chief is appointed.

Before joining the police department, Paul graduated from Buckeye High School in 1974, worked for Stanley Printing Company briefly, then spent a tour of duty in the U.S. Marine Corps until his discharge.

Paul was hired as a patrolman for the Pineville Police Department in February 1981, and has moved up in every rank available since.
“I’ve enjoyed it. There’s been some rough days, there’s been some great days. But it’s been a rewarding career,” Paul said.

Paul recalled the technological changes since he joined law enforcement.

“I’ve seen computers in the car, the mobile CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch),” Paul said, which keeps the officers on the street instead of having to come in and hand-write their reports.

“They all do their reports in the car on the computers and it’s sent directly inside. They’re out on the street where they should be, taking care of business,” Paul said, noting he has also seen the advent of digital cameras in all police units too.

“Since I’ve been chief, I’ve hired 14 patrol officers and two communications officers, and that brings us to within one of a full roster,” Paul added.

The department has 67 officers now and would be fully staffed at 68 people. “We’re almost back up to full strength,” Paul said.

Paul said the department has just gone online with Twitter and Face Book accounts to more readily alert the public for emergency situations, serious accidents and road blockages.

“In case you have an escapee or something, we can get the word out quicker,” Paul said, through public information officer Lt. Basco.

In addition to mobile CADs for police cars and motorcycles, Paul said that under his tenure the department has implemented a missing child/older or disabled adult program.

“If we have someone, a child or an older person or a disabled person that is missing, we call this network and we give them the information, the description, the location,” Paul said.

“They have the capability of making, like, 1,000 phone calls in one minute to alert the public,” Paul said, to go outside in the targeted area to look on their property.

“We’ve never had to use it. We haven’t had it that long, but it is a good program,” Paul said. “They zero in on that particular area, so many miles radius, and they can call everyone that lives in that radius.”

Also, he brought back the community policing program in Pineville but Paul noted “it’s not what I’ve done sitting in here as chief, it’s what the men and women of the Pineville Police Department have done that makes this department work.”

“We couldn’t have accomplished what we’ve accomplished without the help of the mayor, his staff, the officers you see out there working the streets day and night, weekends, holidays — they’re the ones that needs the credit, not me,” Paul said.

“I just play a small part, and I wish them good luck,” Paul said.

His immediate plans are to enjoy some time with his wife Diane and his family, which include children Jill, Jeff and Shelley, and the six grandchildren: Lanyne, Dustin, Emily, Cole, Piper and Shelbi.

“I have a long list for him, keep him busy,” Paul’s wife, Diane, said. “We’re very proud of him for what he’s done and what he’s accomplished.”

During the afternoon retirement party, Pineville City Judge Philip Terrell called Paul “a kind, Christian man” who is dedicated to his family, community and his fellow law enforcement colleagues.

Though court and law enforcement officials all perform different jobs, “we’re all family,” the judge said, adding that Paul “has been a tremendous asset to the police department and the community.”

“I’m proud he was our police chief and especially proud he’s been my friend all these years,” Judge Terrell said.

Rapides Parish Sheriff Chuck Wagner said, “We hate to see you leave but know it’s a new story in your life.”
“Everything we did together was in the best interest of this community,” Sheriff Wagner said.

Assistant Chief Rusty Murdock told the crowd that “he’s a good guy and got a good attitude.” Captain Joe Salmon and Ken Walker with Red River Delta Law Enforcement Planning District also paid tribute to Paul.

Mayor Clarence R. Fields read a proclamation by the City Council declaring April 16 as “Chief Jesse Terral Paul Day” in recognition of his service.

“We lose a good friend and we lose a great leader and obviously I will miss him,” Mayor Fields said.

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