Highlands Police Department begins a search for new chief

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Brittney Lofthouse – Contributing Writer

A search for a new police chief began in February when Franklin Police Chief David Adams announced his resignation to take over the chief spot at Waynesville Police Department. Captain Danny Bates has served as interim since Adams’ departure. 

The open seat in Franklin saw an influx of applications from capable candidates. The search for a new chief ended last week when Franklin announced the hiring of Bill Harrell – who has served as the Chief of Highlands Police for 14-plus years. Now, Highlands Police Department has a vacancy and is searching for their next leader. 

“I congratulate Chief Harrell on his new appointment as Town of Franklin Chief of Police and I wish him the best. I know he will serve the Town of Franklin well,” said Highlands Manager Josh Ward. “Chief Harrell’s last day will be June 1. We will soon post the vacancy and begin the search for a replacement as soon as possible.”

After addressing both the Highlands Police Department and Franklin Police Department, Chief Harrell released a statement thanking Highlands for their support during his career. 

“I would like to start by recognizing my family for their unwavering support, patience and grace for this career path we have been invested for almost 27 years and it certainly hasn’t been easy considering all the sacrifices of missed birthdays, holidays, vacations and other special occasions. They’re the bomb,” he said. “Next, I’d like to give a shout out to the Town of Highlands for their leadership’s support. It has been an incredible journey that I do not take for granted and I am forever grateful in their role of shaping me for my service there and this next chapter in my career. I am also eternally thankful for the camaraderie of my colleagues, HPD Officers and staff, Town of Highlands staff and last but certainly not least, the  community. It has been a blessing beyond measure for the friendships developed and fostered by the loving hearts of the community and they will be sorely missed, but never forgotten.”

Harrell stated that returning to Franklin has been a career goal of his, as he started with the department nearly 30 years when first entering law enforcement. 

“Now, regarding this dream from the time I was a rookie for the Town of Franklin almost 27 years ago, I am nervously excited for this opportunity,” said Harrell. “I have traveled for the experience of other agencies that would inevitably mold me for this transition and I look forward to getting to know and serve with the Town of Franklin leadership, police department, and other Town departments. I would be remiss if I didn’t say that I am anxiously optimistic to continue to raise the bar for the police department for the betterment of public safety for everyone and I look forward to sharpening the strong talents, abilities and potential that I have recognized FPD Officers and staff possess.”

Harrell has a B.S. in criminal justice from Western Carolina University as well as a Master of Justice Administration from Methodist University. 

“The town of Franklin is pleased to welcome Chief Harrell,” said Franklin Town Manager Summer Woodard. “His experience, education and proficiency will be an asset to the Franklin Police Department. He is an established leader in our community who is familiar with the town of Franklin and Franklin Police Department.”

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