|Photo by Tom Marshall
NEW CHIEF—Terry Landrum recently took over as chief of the Mt. Sterling Police Dept. The Wolfe County native was previously employed as deputy chief of the Memphis, Tenn., Police Dept.
|Landrum looks forward to new role as MSPD chief
|By Tom Marshall
Senior Advocate writer
After putting out race riots, dealing with Klan rallies and coping with the big city violence that accompanies someplace like Memphis, Tenn., Terry Landrum looks forward to coming back home to Kentucky.
Landrum, 59, took over as Mt. Sterling police chief last week. He replaces Wayne Green, who had served as interim chief for almost a year.
Landrum is originally from Wolfe County and said he wanted to be closer to his parents. His father lives in Menifee County while his mother still resides in Wolfe County.
“I’ve been blessed, I’ve had a good career,” Landrum said. “I’m from here and my parents are getting older. When my parents said there’s this job and you need to look into it, I did.
“I always said if I was going to come back there were two places I’d want to go—Winchester or Mt. Sterling,” he added.
Landrum said he spent a good deal of time in Mt. Sterling as a youth, selling cattle and tobacco at local establishments. He was also known to bring a date to Mt. Sterling on occasion and has attended Court Days, he said.
Landrum said he wanted to be a police officer since childhood and saw it as real possibility at Eastern Kentucky University, which has a well established law enforcement program.
Landrum graduated from EKU in 1982 and was recruited with two of his classmates to the Memphis Police Dept.
Shortly into his tenure there, one of his academy classmates, John Wesley Sykes, was murdered while responding to a call.
The loss hit Landrum hard, he said, but didn’t deter him from his career in law enforcement.
Another incident shortly after his arrival in Memphis also had a profound effect on him. That was the 1983 murder of Patrolman Robert Hester, who was beaten and tortured after being taken hostage by a religious cult, according to newspaper accounts.
Hester died of his injuries.
Landrum said these two incidents reinforced just how important it is to be careful while working in law enforcement.
Landrum worked in many roles over the course of his career in Memphis—a housing authority officer, street crimes, organized crime, robbery, drugs, sex crimes, homicide and as a supervisor.
He rose to the rank of deputy chief overseeing uniform patrol for the approximately 1,900 person police force before he retired.
Just a few weeks ago Landrum was working a race riot in the city when he says he was struck under his body armor on the side by part of a brick thrown by a protestor.
Landrum escaped major injury, but has the object attached to a plaque that hangs in his office at the MSPD.
Landrum said he is expecting a less dangerous role in Mt. Sterling.
“This will be a welcome relief,” he said.
Landrum has also assisted the U.S. Marshal’s Service and the U.S. Customs Service during the course of his career.
Landrum said all the experience should prepare him for whatever he might face here.
“I’ve had a lot of experience,” he said. “There isn’t much I haven’t seen.”
Landrum is full of ideas on how to improve the MSPD. Among them are beefing up training (including specialized training in dealing with the mentally ill), reinstituting bike patrols and working with local clergy to identify problems in the community and help address them.
“Preachers are a good inroad to letting us know what’s going on,” he said.
All of that is part of his strong belief in Community Oriented Policing that has been instituted by law enforcement agencies all across the country to better connect officers with the communities they serve.
Attacking the local drug problem is another priority, he said, through programs like the Gateway Area Drug Task Force.
The task force, which includes Mt. Sterling Police, was created by the community’s designation as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA).
The program opens up participating agencies to federal resources such as buy money and overtime for officers.
While the task force may focus on larger-scale dealers, Landrum said he also wants to emphasize the importance of taking street-level dealers off the streets.
Landrum said he also wants the dept. to be more responsive to the community’s needs by promoting rehabilitation opportunities to those addicted to drugs.
Landrum said he will continue efforts to recruit women and minority officers to the force to be more reflective of the community.
The dept. currently has one black officer and one female officer.
Landrum said he also looks forward to working with the minority community to meet their needs as he did in Memphis, which is more than 60 percent black.
Landrum said his chief goal “is to leave the dept. in better shape than it was before I got here.”
Mayor Al Botts expressed confidence in the new chief.
“The safety and security of this community is a top priority for me,” Botts said. “Chief Terry Landrum brings a strong resume and considerable law enforcement experience to this position. He’s certainly had an impressive career thus far. I am very excited about his vision for community outreach and his desire to develop partnerships throughout our community.
“I am also impressed with his plan for training and professional development of our police force,” he added. “I have the utmost confidence in Chief Landrum. I can’t wait for the community to get to know him.”
Landrum and his wife, Glenda, have a son and a daughter, both of whom work for the Memphis Police Dept. The Landrums also have two grandsons and a granddaughter.
Terry and Glenda plan to make a permanent move to Mt. Sterling in the near future.