What started as a class project for his students in the Criminal Justice program at Paris Junior College has turned into reality for Ladonia’s new Chief of Police Howard Day.
As of Aug. 1, 2019, the Ladonia Police Department is once again an active department after it was closed almost five years ago.
“The decision to close the Ladonia Police Department was based on economics – it just wasn’t financially feasible with businesses moving out of town, etc.,” said Day. “Since then, they’ve depended on the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office.”
While Day never sought out to re-open the department, it was a class project that brought the city’s needs to his attention.
“At the end of our Spring semester this year, I was planning to hold a law enforcement forum and while I was putting together a list of departments in our area to invite, I discovered Ladonia didn’t have a department.”
After the forum, Day couldn’t get the City of Ladonia off his mind and that’s when he decided to research more on why the department closed.
Through his research, he discovered that Ladonia was going to be one of the locations for the North Trinity River Water District lakes that are currently being built. Having helped the City of Anna start their police department back in 2005, Day knew what the city would need with the explosive growth that is set to come.
“You need a plan and to be prepared for when that kind of growth comes,” explained Day, “and that’s when I decided it would be a great project for my students.”
But that “project” became a real-life project after the city leaders said they like to actually make it happen.
While the Ladonia Police Department might be new, their new Chief is no stranger to working in law enforcement or even running a department.
Day is a 32-year military veteran and has held his police officer license since 1997 in both Florida and Texas. During his time in the military, he has completed several combat tours in Panama, Iraq, and Afghanistan and was even selected to become a United States Army CID Special Agent.
“In 2005, I went through the required courses to become a Special Agent and went on to lead and oversee operations of 50 special agents that were assigned to Iraq, Qatar, and Kuwait.”
In 2008, Day was recalled to active duty again, and in 2009, he was sent to Afghanistan as a Combat Advisor where he served six out of his nine-month deployment before returning due to injury. Upon his return, he continued to serve for another six-years where he worked with the Army’s Wounded Warriors program.
“To keep my law enforcement license during that time, I worked as a Reserve Officer at the Tom Bean Police Department in Grayson County,” said Day, “I would fly back from Washington DC once a month, work a Friday and Saturday night on the streets before heading back.”
Over the past five years, Day has not only continued his work in law enforcement but he has also taught at both Grayson College and now, Paris Junior College.
“In 2017 I took over the Criminal Justice program at Grayson College and a year ago the position at PJC presented itself and I knew it was a great opportunity to move to the next level.”
That opportunity is what led him to the position of Police Chief of Ladonia.
“I spent roughly 62 days over the summer break working with the State of Texas to reactive the department. There was a lot of paperwork and inspections to be done before being signed off by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement,” explained Day.
However, whilst the department has been reactivated, the funds still aren’t quite where they need to be so, therefore, everything, so far, has been donated and time volunteered.
“The department has been set up like a volunteer fire department – the officers including myself aren’t paid. The city provided some limited financial resources as capital money to buy a few needed items, but everything else has been donated.”
The Fannin County Sheriff’s Office, who will continue to work with the new department, also stepped up to help out by donating a mobile radio needed for the patrol car.
The department has also started the interview process for several reserve officer positions currently available.
“Reserve officers traditionally work between 16 – 24 hours a month,” said Day, “and we’re trying to get as much coverage as we can while we re-build. Additionally, we’ve partnered with the Texoma Housing Authority and the Fannindel ISD to provide law enforcement coverage.”
So, why did a Veteran who has served his country and continues to share his knowledge with the next generation want to take on this new role? Because he lives his life by two very simple rules – “Leave it better than you found it and die tired,” said Day.
For more information on Reserve Officer positions or the Ladonia Police Department, email firstname.lastname@example.org