Chief William Hollowell, 60, was hired by the Holy Springs Board of Aldermen on Oct. 3.
He first worked for the Holly Springs Police Department in 1973 after finishing a four-year tour of duty in the United States Marine Corps.
Hollowell wanted to work in his hometown police department, but he didn't think he would get hired because it was the 1970s, and they already had one black police officer.
"The chief (Freddy Autry) wrote down the day I was coming home and came looking for me," Hollowell said. "He became a mentor, sort of like a father figure to me. He set my schedule up so I could have time off for exams and go to school. I really loved the police department during those seven years. I was allowed to go to the academy, I got my degree in law enforcement, was certified to give DUI tests, they sent me to the FBI seminar on small arms and explosives, I got my college degree and I got a well-rounded police officer education."
He remembers a police department with high morale and low turnover rate.
"I just wanted to make a contribution to the community, and I heard there had been a history of problems in the Holly Springs Police Department since the late 1980s," he said. "We had a chief convicted, and there have been a series of problems. I look back on the days when I was a young officer, and we had a better reputation with the community."
Hollowell retired from Memphis City Schools in May and applied for the police chief position. He said he isn't good at staying retired.
The biggest difference he sees in the department since his days as an officer is the access to technology, with automated citations, arrests and court documents.
"We have cameras that record everything here in the police department, and I love the added accountability," he said. "We're looking at body cameras for the officers to add accountability and evidence in court."
The biggest problem Hollowell sees in his community is drugs - crack cocaine, bath salts, marijuana and prescription drugs.
In addition to prior experience in the department and working as the ROTC instructor in Memphis City Schools, Hollowell served in the United States Army for 20 years, commanding a Military Police task force.
"I think my tour of duty with the Memphis City Schools has gotten me up on a lot of problems that confront officers nowadays, because you tend to see a lot of the drugs, guns and family issues right there in the urban schools," Hollowell said.
When he retired from the Army in 2000, he returned to his family farm in Waterford where he still lives with his wife, Annie.