While former Wake Village City Council member Steve Shelley is now the city's new police chief, he said getting the job actually was a process that started at least 30 years ago.
"After I heard about this job opening, I decided after 30 years experience, it was time for a job like this," said Shelley, who started his job as Wake Village's new police chief last week. "Each day of those 30 years helped prepare me for the job."
Shelley is a graduate from Louisiana State University. His father served as a small-town police chief while (Shelley) was growing up. Shelley said he got his start in law enforcement as a Webster Parish constable for three years, while still living in the Shreveport, Louisiana, area.
"Because my dad was a small town police chief, that is what initially got me interested in law enforcement," Shelley said.
Upon journeying up to visit Texarkana one day in 1986, Shelley took notice of what was then the new Bi-State Justice Center building. This helped solidify his interest in law enforcement.
"That building impressed me at the time," Shelley said.
With his experience as a constable on his side, Shelley eventually applied for a Texarkana, Texas, police position in 1989 and got accepted. He served as a patrol officer for four years before moving on to serve 11 years with the department's Criminal Investigations Division. From there, Shelley got promoted to sergeant in January 2004 and became a supervisor for the department's patrol division traffic unit for seven years.
"Our unit's job was to conduct traffic-accident investigations for both fatal and nonfatal accidents, in addition to conducting general traffic law enforcement," Shelley said.
Following service with the traffic unit, Shelley worked in the department's Services Division as a public information officer for about two years, before moving back to working alternately between CID and patrol. Then he became Wake Village's police chief.
Even before becoming the city's police chief, Shelley lived in Wake Village and served as a city council member for six years.
Wake Village celebrated its 75th-year anniversary this year. Its population grew from fewer than 1,000 at the time of its April 1944 charter to more than 5,000 today. The city is still primarily a residential hamlet, with recent growth in commercial establishments.
From Shelley's perspective, the town seems to be visited by the same criminal elements faced by other cities in the Texarkana area. Shelley said that to some degree, crime appears to be being dealt with more effectively as time goes on — owing in large measure to the evolving and ever-improving coordination of crime-fighting tactics among the area's local law enforcement agencies.
"I think that the close coordination we have with other police agencies in this area remains very strong and it's staying that way," he said.