Chris Hatton

Hatton

Happy 2020! My wife, Glennis, and I had a wonderful first Christmas in Sylva. The town looked so beautiful with all the decorations and lights and we’ve met so many wonderful people. Thank you all for making us feel so welcome. This truly is a special place.

Your police department has been busy as usual. Holidays are an unpredictable time of year for us but for the most part, everybody behaved and didn’t get too rowdy during the holidays and we really appreciate that.

If you haven’t already heard, I have some “super” exciting news to share with you. Sylva, you are going to part of the NFL’s Super Bowl this year! Fox Sports came to Sylva on Sunday and filmed footage that will be included in their programming during Super Bowl LIV. The game will air live from Miami, Florida on Feb. 2. When I heard Fox Sports was coming to town, I assumed it was to focus on our impressive local law enforcement charity flag football team, but I guess the Super Bowl is good too, right? Keep your eye out for our town during the big game.

On a more serious note, my journey as your new chief of police has already had some ups and downs. I recently found myself leading our agency through a scary situation. Everything ended well and nobody was hurt, but the incident caused me to reflect on why my fellow officers and I chose law enforcement as our profession.

I’d like to share with you where this thought process took me that day. I think we can all agree that being a police officer isn’t for everyone, so, who is it for? These are some of the traits and qualities I believe it takes to last in my profession.

To begin, you have to be willing to not give up on someone’s life, even when they have given up. You have to be tough enough to physically overpower and arrest a suspect one minute and then be gentle and compassionate with someone grieving the next.

On any given day, you find yourself doing the best you can to muster all the right words to say as you function as a marriage counselor in someone’s living room. On your next call, you may be expected to break up a bar fight, while being called names and recorded by a crowd full of people half your age. Then, you could be called to help get a wild critter or snake out of someone’s house.

You’ll see so much you cannot change, because the damage is done before you arrived. People will expect you to instantly deescalate and solve problems that took years to develop. Whether you want it or not, you’ll have a front row seat to the worst of humanity. A scene that’s not always easy to watch. You’ll have to be a lawyer, nurse, counselor, roadside mechanic, taxi driver, mediator, traffic controller, compassionate listener and master communicator, perhaps all during the same shift ... and still keep a pleasant smile for the public. Grumpy cops get complaints.

When you call, we always answer and we always come. It’s what we do.

Why do we do this tough job? The answer is simple, but you aren’t likely to hear it from one of us. We are way too macho to tell you that the reason we do this job, is love. We love Sylva and the people we serve. We are protectors by nature and we couldn’t turn it off, even if we wanted to. We want to be part of making sure Sylva is safe for everyone everyday.

Sometimes, we do save a life, help an accident victim, and every once in a while we meet someone who respects what we do and isn’t shy about saying so. We know we can’t solve all the world’s problems, but we can have a positive impact right here in Sylva.

Even though it’s in our nature to shrug off your compliments, we hear you and we feel your support, and it means the world to the men and women of Sylva PD. We are working hard everyday to maintain your trust. Thank you for supporting your police department.

Until next time, Sylva, please look out for each other, slow down on our roads and watch for people in our crosswalks.

Hatton is chief of the Sylva Police Department.