Sesser Seeks Stability in Police Department

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By Sam Jones
By Andy Shofstall

FRANKLIN COUNTY-- Sesser now has a new police chief,  the third to lead the department in the past year.

The constant turnover has lef t some in the community worried, so officers invited people to come out and get to know them on Friday.

"We'll get things on the right track," explained Chief Paul Carlson.

Carlson and other officers sat down with residents at Sesser's first Coffee with a Cop event. 

"We want to show the cops are out there to protect them and lower the crime rate," Mayor Jason Ashmore said.

Sesser sees its fair share of crime, but Ashmore says armed robberies in nearby towns have put residents on high alert in recent weeks.

"They're starting to move into the smaller communities, and we want to be proactive and stop it before," Ashmore added.

His proactive stance is shared by the latest interim chief.

"The more we can do to serve the people, the better we become," Carlson told News 3..

He held the chief position for 20 years, retired, and came back again at the new mayor's request. Carlson says his top goal is bringing the community and police together.

"The closer we become to the people, the more information we get, the more eyes we have watching," Carlson said.

In a sea of change, he's committed to finding a permanent replacement who will stay for years. Mayor Ashmore says it has been hard to retain officers.

"Unfortunately I can't pay what they're worth, and we're losing 'em to higher paying jobs," Ashmore conceded.

Carlson adds, the workload can overwhelm newcomers.

"I've already done it so it's not so bad on me, but it's overwhelming when you walk in and see all the responsibilities that you have," he said.

The third time's the charm for residents. They're happy to see Carlson as top cop once again.

"I'm just really glad that Paul Carlson is back as chief of police," Robbin Baxter said.

Others are also optimistic about what's to come.

"I'm excited for things. I just think that we have a future, you know?  I really do now," added Lawanda Johnston.

Carlson will continue to serve as the police chief until the city finds a replaceme

Previous chief Rob Barrett has been on paid administrative leave since Ashmore took office. Barrett is paid $2,200 each month. It's not clear why he was put on leave. The mayor would only say an internal investigation is underway.

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