Palestine Police Chief Andy Harvey has resigned, effective Oct. 18.
“It has been my pleasure to lead the members of the police department, and serve the city the last two years,” Harvey, 49, said in a prepared statement. “This is a great community, and I will miss the good people here. I am ready for my next season.”
Harvey's departure isn't a shock.
Over the past year, Harvey has been a finalist candidate for at least three police chief jobs – Pharr, Texas; Palm Bay, Florida; and most recently in Fort Smith, Arkansas, where this week he was named one of three finalists for police chief.
It's unclear whether Harvey, who was unavailable for comment Friday, has found another job.
Harvey, a 21-year veteran of the Dallas Police Department, told a Fort Smith reporter he was looking for a place for he and his wife to “stay for a while.”
Harvey, who earns $105,000 a year as chief, also publicly took issue with his salary.
After a city-wide pay raise last November excluded top-ranking city officials, including Harvey, he called the decision “fundamentally unfair.”
“To attract talent and the skill level you have to pay for it,” Harvey said.
Harvey is the fourth senior city official to leave in the last three months.
Public Works Director Tim Perry retired with little notice in July, followed a month later by his replacement, Rob Thames in August. Also in August, Palestine Economic Development Director Gayle Cooper resigned.
Mayor Steve Presley told the Herald-Press Friday each employee had his or her own reason for leaving.
“There are totally different circumstances behind every employee's departure,” he said. “I don't think these four instances speak to a single issue.”
During his tenure, Harvey made community policing the focus of the department. The formation of groups such as the Chief's Clergy Coalition; UNIDOS in Palestine, an Hispanic outreach program; and adding a Quality of Life officer to work with social service agencies such as Access, and Child Protective Services are evidence of Harvey's commitment to community policing.
Under Harvey's leadership, the department added a new “fleet system” of vehicles, as well as a motorcycle unit, and a drone with thermal-imaging capabilities to aid officers in fighting crime.
Palestine Police Asst. Chief Mark Harcrow, a possible contender for the police chief's job, credits Harvey for introducing the department to 21st century policing.
“We have a different police department today than we did when Chief Harvey arrived in 2017,” Harcrow told the Herald-Press. “It is most evident in the strong relationships we have built with the community. Chief Harvey has built a strong foundation for us to continue to build on in the future.”
City Manager Leslie Cloer said she would follow-up with city council members to decide how to address the transition of leadership.
“During Police Chief Harvey's service to the city, he worked to reach out to involve various segments of our community,” Cloer said. “I thank Chief Harvey, not only for his service to various branches of the military, but also for what he has done for the city of Palestine, and his prior agencies.
“The two of us will work together to plan the smoothest transition prior to his departure.”