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New Police Chief on civil unrest, vision for department and personal life

Published: Aug. 13, 2020 at 5:07 PM CDT
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - New Bowling Green Police Chief, Michael Delaney sat down with 13 News one-on-one to talk about a number of topics as he faces nearly two weeks leading the department.

"There's a lot of responsibility, policing a community this great, but I'm up for the challenge," said Delaney. "I just want to do a great job and want to serve the community the best way I can."

Amid tensions between police and the public nationwide, Delaney says he's listening.

"[I plan to] just really get more involved in the community. We've done that through the whole civil unrest. All the people that were hosting an event, we made it a point to go and talk to them, listen to their views and then try to help them with their protesting, I believe that's why we were successful because we were listening."

When it comes to ensuring riots don't occur in the city, in addition to listening, he says he also recognizes the possibility for multiple movements with varying beliefs. That's something that must be acknowledged, he adds.

“People are allowed to express their opinions. We just ask that they keep it non-violent when they express their opinions. I believe riots occur when they feel that their voices are not being heard. if their voices are being heard and you’re taking actions and you’re understanding the reason that they’re protesting, I believe the protests remain peaceful, and both parties understand they have a right to be there and the other party has a right to impose and our job is to keep everyone safe in the middle of all that.”

Bowling Green has remained out of the spotlight for police brutality. Delaney says that’s likely because of the training and culture of the department. He adds that the type of behavior within the department is not acceptable, and that’s taught from the start.

"It's taught early on with our training and now we have our in-house training academy, so we can teach you day 1 how we expect you to treat the citizens of Bowling Green and you don't treat them that way - it won't be tolerated here. So, we have great training, we have great officers, we have a great group mindset of how we want the community to view us and how we'ere going to treat the community with respect and dignity at all times, so that would never happen here I don't believe."

Movements against police have called for better training, especially when responding to mental health calls. Something Delaney says their department is already proactive about but also is open to progressing.

“All of our officers go through the crisis intervention training, so they’re taught how to deal with those people during those crises and try to help them through their problem, but there’s a bigger issue of helping those people in their times of crisis that we need to identify a way to get them the treatment they need. It’s going to take legislation, it’s going to take the help of law enforcement and everyone coming together, recognizing that problem and coming up with a solution.”

22 years climbing the ranks, plus the first black police chief in Bowling Green, but all this has the new leader unphased. Perhaps making him the most fit for the job.

"Not any extra pressure. I think it's the pressure that comes along with the job," he said. "There's a lot of responsibility, policing a community this great, but I'm up for the challenge. The pressures that I think I put on me are internal, I just want to do a great job and want to serve the community the best way I can."

Inside Delaney's office, you'll find awards, medals, keepsakes, and notice, he's a family man.

“That’s part of it-- showing him what a man is supposed to look like and mentoring him and developing him to be a leader and a man,” said Delaney about fathering his child and mentoring young men in the community.

Before chief, he's first a father, even without one of his own.

“I grew up in a single-family household, so my mom worked, ya know a couple of jobs most of the time. She was the mother and the father,” Delaney explained.

"I can share my story and share some of the struggles that I went through and try to make sure that they don't go through that too."

The story of new Bowling Green Police Chief Michael Delaney is one of trial, growth, and triumph.

“I was one of those latchkey kids from that era that you come home, mom’s at work, she’ll be in just a few, so a lot of the things that I went through by being a young man without a father figure there,” Delaney said.

A Bowling Green native, Delaney’s leadership journey begins at a tension-filled time. Nonetheless, he recognizes the importance now more than ever of bridging the gap between the public and police.

“I plan on working the neighborhood services. Go to some neighborhood watch meetings, talk to them, and just really get more involved in the community. We’ve done that through the whole civil unrest. All the people that were hosting an event, we made it a point to go and talk to them, listen to their views and then try to help them with their protesting, I believe that’s why we were successful because we were listening,” said Delaney.

And that proof is in his presence. In June, Delaney walked alongside protesters, having conversations. Even before his chief status, leading in his own natural ways.

“Throughout a lot of the protests some of the questions that we’d walk around and just making conversation with people, was asking them if they trust the police department. Some would say yes, some would say no, the ones that said no, I said what can I do to gain your trust? And then taking that information of what they want their police department to do to gain their trust and implementing those things,” said Delaney.

MORE: New Bowling Green Police Chief discusses willingness to listen to protesters

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