By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal
SALTILLO – After 37 years in law enforcement and an unsuccessful mayoral bid, Saltillo Police Chief Steve Brooks is hanging up his badge.
Brooks holds the dual distinctions of being Saltillo’s first appointed police chief and its last to be elected.
“I sold my house (Tuesday) here in town and I’m going to move back into my home place where my mother used to live and that’s where I have all my cows and my farm equipment,” Brooks said. “I’m going to farm and enjoy life.”
Brooks, who lost the mayor’s race June 4 to Rex Smith, will continue to serve through June 30, when his retirement kicks in. He’ll then tend to his 30 head of cattle full time.
While Brooks gears up for retirement, the city is advertising the opening and collecting applications. When the new board is sworn in July 1, it will begin working to fill the vacancy.
“The chief’s job is one we really don’t need to go a long time without so that will be acted upon immediately,” said Alderwoman Jewell Webb. “Whether it’s at our July 2nd meeting or shortly thereafter.”
The city also has been taking applications to fill its open investigator position in the police department. Assistant Chief Prentiss Brown is acting in the investigator role until it is filled.
Webb said she expects the chief vacancy to take precedent over the investigator position.
Brooks has served all 37 years of his career in Lee County, starting at the Lee County Sheriff’s Office in 1981 and then moving to Saltillo as a patrolman and eventually chief in 2002.
When Brooks took office in 2002, he was appointed by the then Board of Aldermen as the city’s first appointed police chief. The aldermen eventually changed the police chief back to an elected position and Brooks was elected as chief in 2005 and 2009.
The current board changed the position back to an appointed position in 2010, making Brooks the last police chief to be elected in Saltillo.
“I’ve enjoyed being chief up here and I’m going to miss everybody,” Brooks said. “But right now I don’t have any more public service aspirations. I’ve got a bunch of work that needs to be done (out at the home place) and I’m going to take my time. Law enforcement has worn me out. I’ve been shot and everything else and I’m just a little worn out.”