Q&A with New Police Chief Richard Simmons, Jr.

Richard H. Simmons, Jr.

by John Sargent

Biography

Richard H. Simmons, Jr. grew up in Moore, Oklahoma.

He served in the United States Marine Corps Reserves for 24 years, from 1988 to 2012. He was mobilized and deployed to Saudia Arabia and Kuwait and then three separate times to Iraq. He retired honorably as a First Sergeant.

Simmons earned his bachelor of arts degree in political science from the University of Oklahoma and his master of science in criminal justice leadership and management from Sam Houston State University. He completed a course of study at the FBI National Academy in criminal justice education.

At the Fort Worth Police Department, Simmons rose from Officer to Corporal to Sergeant to Lieutenant in the span of 26 years. As Lieutenant, he served as the commander of the Forensics and Economic Crimes Section and commander of jail operations. He managed the Prolific Offender Program.

Q&A with Richard Simmons

Why Bethel?

I have had that same question from folks that live here and folks that don’t. We’re coming to Bethel for the adventure, to do something different. I enjoy being part of a small community and its part of the life my family cherishes.

My family consists of my wife and three children. We have two adult daughters, both married. One is a nurse and one an aspiring teacher. My son just graduated from high school and is pursuing a firefighting career. My wife and I are in a position to retire and make a change where we can apply our years of experience somewhere that is both challenging and fulfilling.

My wife is a registered nurse who will stay behind in Texas to wrap up our life there over the next couple of months. She will move to Bethel permanently around the first of the year.

What is your impression of Bethel?

Bethel is a friendly place. I love that when I was riding around with Acting Police Chief Amy Davis, people waved to us. That brought a big smile to my face. It is natural to wave at folks where I’m from, and I was truly glad to see people waving here as well. Everybody I met in Bethel seemed to be a potential new friend.

What is your policing philosophy?

I am a big proponent of procedural justice. Procedural justice involves officers engaging others in a manner that contains elements of respect, neutrality, trust, and giving people a voice. When practiced regularly, it encourages positive responses from the community and results in increased satisfaction with the police. Citizens want to be heard. Theories surrounding procedural justice are not just for the community, but describe a way that organizations should work internally, and something that you can expect for my relation with officers and staff as well.

Policing is about who we serve, not about who we arrest. It is about actions, so we should talk about actions that affect Bethel from an informed perspective. As a police officer, I have been in a great position over the years to help a lot of people. Your Bethel officers know this, and I bet it is why they continue to serve when, quite frankly, they don’t have to. They know the constant, daily impact they make for real people, in very real and trying situations.

What changes do you see for Bethel PD?

Overall, Bethel citizens seem happy with the Bethel PD and that is good—it should be that way. The department appears to be well respected by surrounding agencies as well. Some of the changes I will make will come from the officers’ suggestions, some from the community, and some from best practices in the field of policing. Bethel does not need sweeping change in the police department. Instead, it is in a prime position to engage “community policing” more fully. To that effect, you will see me reaching out to establish regular lines of communication and partnerships within the community and the various groups that we have. Bethel citizens do not seem inclined to fluff and bluster, and both they and their officers can expect me to talk straight with them.

How long will you stay in Bethel?

When my wife and I make a major life decision, we tend stick with it for a bit. I retired from the Marine Corps with 24 years of service and Fort Worth Police Department after 25 years. As long as we both feel that we can be productive in our specific fields and have something to give, I see us being here. We are planning to buy a house in Bethel and make a life here for ourselves.

As a former Marine, I’m not worried about “roughing it” a little.

Do you like hunting and fishing?

Oh yes, most certainly. I plan on hunting and fishing as much as the duties will allow – but only after I have the Police Chief job well in hand.

How do you feel about Committees?

I am not a stranger to participating in groups, and it is my preferred way of conducting most administrative functions. I was an active committee participant in Weatherford, Texas, where I was on the Transportation Advisory Committee, the Planning and Zoning Commission, and the Weatherford Housing Authority over the years.

Quyana and welcome to Bethel!

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