Eureka Springs police chief announces retirement
What happens when your work is done?
Eureka Springs police chief Thomas Achord is on the case. Achord announced Monday he will be retiring from the Eureka Springs Police Department, saying his last day is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 31. He’s worked for the department since 1999, Achord said, when he started out as a reserve officer. On Dec. 31, 2014, Achord was sworn in as police chief.
“I’ve worked here for 19 years. It’s been a great opportunity,” Achord said. “I’ve cherished it and had a wonderful set of experiences I’ll always keep close to my heart.”
Achord remembered growing up in Eureka Springs and seeing how unique the city is.
“Eureka Springs is different from a lot of communities in that we’re solely tourism-based,” Achord said. “The people who come here need to feel safe, but they also need to feel welcomed.”
Eureka Springs Mayor Butch Berry said Achord has been one of the city’s strongest ambassadors over the years.
“It goes back to when he was a downtown patrolman to his ultimate position as chief of police,” Berry said. “He’s going to be greatly missed for his knowledge of Eureka Springs and the diversity of Eureka.”
The best part of his job, Achord said, is working with everyone at the police department. That includes all the officers, dispatchers and support staff, he said.
“It’s been an honor, because they’re the true asset. I have been fortunate to have a group that works really hard and understands what the community needs,” Achord said. “I have been lucky to be at the helm of the ship while they’re doing all the hard work. They’re the ones that deserve the credit for everything, because they’re the ones that make it happen.”
During his tenure as police chief, Achord said, he has worked with Berry and other department heads to ensure the city’s budget is on the right track. That’s just part of the job, Achord said.
“There’s times when decisions have to be made, and you figure out what to prioritize,” Achord said. “The mayor understands when things are needed, and he understands when things are wanted.”
Achord continued, “Yes, we’ve had a budget crunch. Yes, there’s been times when it’s been tight. All the department heads have come together to work hard to get through those difficult times.”
Berry thanked Achord for his positive attitude, saying that’s important when times get tough.
“He’s been a great, big positive benefit to my administration,” Berry said. “I’ve been really lucky to have him here for the four years we’ve had him.”
Achord said he’s worked in public service for nearly 31 years. In that time, he said, he’s learned valuable life lessons.
“You don’t do it for the money. You don’t do it for the recognition,” Achord said. “You do it so at the end of the day, you can go home and know someone’s life has been improved, that it’s safer for everybody.”
He’s going to miss working with everyone at the police department, Achord said.
“We’re a family up here. Everybody’s been really close, and I’ve known these folks for a long time,” Achord said. “I grew up here, so this is a community I feel very vested in. The people at the department are absolutely family, and I’ve loved every minute of it.”
Achord plans to stay in Eureka Springs and hopes to spend more time with his family. He’s looking forward to focusing on his hobbies, Achord said, which include fishing, gardening, planting trees and being at the river.
“It’s been an honor to serve the community,” Achord said. “My reward is the fact that the community and the folks that visit here are protected and safe.”
For those interested in law enforcement, Achord said, a dedication to public service is vital. Law enforcement is constantly changing, he said, so police officers should be willing to change, too.
“You have to have the ability to bend with the times. You need to be flexible. You need to be adaptable,” Achord said.
That’s the exact type of person Berry hopes to replace Achord. If the new police chief is anything like Achord, Berry said, he’ll be happy.
“We need someone who can work in the administration and do detective work,” Berry said. “We’re a small town, we so multi-task a lot.”
He’s received three applications for the position so far, Berry said, and he’s happy to consider officers who already work at the Eureka Springs Police Department.
“I always believe in promoting from within if at all possible,” Berry said. “They’re the ones who understand the department. They understand the nuances of the city. Eureka Springs is unique, and because of that, we’re going to need unique solutions.”
Anyone interested in applying can stop by Eureka Springs City Hall at 44 S. Main St. or call 479-253-9703 for more information.