MARSHALL, TX (KSLA) - Just two days after he took the oath of office, new Marshall Police Chief Cliff Carruth sat down with KSLA for his first interview since his swearing-in ceremony.
It was a ceremony that carried praise for the new chief before he'd even taken the oath.
"There's been a little turmoil," one officer said at the beginning of the ceremony. "We've had things going on. We now have our ship straight and right, we think," Carruth said.
Carruth recalled the moment with a smile.
"The words were nice but, I mean, the main is just getting to work, getting here, working with the community and making things better as soon as we can," Carruth said.
The Longview native with a high school diploma from Kilgore is back in familiar territory. Six of Carruth's 26 years of law enforcement experience were spent as an officer with the Longview Police Department before he joined ranks with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
"With the FBI, I ran the Violent Crime Task Force in Longview and Marshall," Carruth said. "So, for me, working here in Marshall is just a continuation of that but, for me, it is a homecoming and my family's very happy to be here."
By Wednesday afternoon, Carruth told KSLA he'd met with every single MPD patrol shift to gauge whether or not each officer was in the proper place to really benefit the department and to receive their own assessments on its state.
The new chief said he intends to establish a leadership committee to help streamline which officer needs to be where and which ones need to receive more training.
"My commitment is not to make any major changes for at least a month until I can fully understand, make sure that I have a good understanding of why we do things and then taking a second look at it," Chief Carruth said.
Carruth is the first permanent chief MPD has had in more than six months.
Back at the end of April, the previous chief, Jesus "Eddie" Campa, suddenly resigned with two years left on his contract to pursue another opportunity.
Carruth pointed out that he liked the community programs that Campa helped put in place like "Cool Cops" and "No Colors, No Labels" but mentioned he wants to expand community outreach even further beginning next week.
"Community policing is a term a lot of people use. It means different things to different people," Chief Carruth said. "For me, it means us partnering with the community where it's not like....the 'Us vs. Them,' that we're part of the team because we live here, we work in here and it works to everyone's advantage if we work together."
"I'd be concerned that if we're just meeting for the purpose of meeting, which is good to get to know each other but I like to go beyond that where we're actually sitting down and identifying problems or concerns and then dealing with that."
Another principle Carruth stressed that he wanted to bring to the department was more cooperation between different law enforcement agencies.
"Marshall's not an island," he said. "Whether it be from Shreveport, from Longview, from Waskom, people travel back and forth so it's important for us in law enforcement, I think, to communicate and identify areas where we could help each other."
MPD officials told KSLA they are planning a community meet-and-greet with Carruth within a month.
The new chief said he will continue to try to cultivate community relations in the meantime, as he says he believes all roads bridging the gape between the police and the people begin with getting both on the same team.
"It's building trust, communicating and getting together and knowing each other," he stressed. "A lot of times, that's hard to do if a person's in a police car and they're just going from call to call to call which happens a lot of times, so we've got to figure out ways to bring that together