Top News Stories of 2018, No. 3: Young named to succeed Achord as police chief
By Samantha Jones
The Eureka Springs Police Department gained new leadership in 2018.
Police chief Thomas Achord announced his retirement on Aug. 13, saying his last day of work would be Aug. 31. He had 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.”
On Aug. 29, Berry announced that assistant police chief Brian Young is the new Eureka Springs chief of police.
“Upon the retirement of Chief [Thomas] Achord, we sought the qualities of leadership, relationship within the community and experience in our incoming chief of police,” Berry said. “I believe Brian Young has these qualities and more required for this position. It is with pleasure that today I announce Brian Young as chief of police.”
Young took the oath of office on Aug. 31. For Young, his new job title came as a surprise. Young recalled starting out with the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office in 1999, saying he worked in the jail and as a road deputy until moving to the Eureka Springs Police Department in 2004.
“I’ve been here ever since,” Young said.
He moved to Eureka Springs from Moore, Okla., in 1988, Young said, just in time to graduate from Eureka Springs High School in 1989. Young said he grew up around law enforcement, with his father working as a firefighter and his uncles working as police officers.
“As young kids, most of us want to be firefighters or cops when we grow up,” Young said. “I went with it.”
It’s unreal, Young said, to be sitting in the police chief’s office.
“I never thought I’d go this high in law enforcement. It feels really good knowing I made it to the top,” Young said. “When I started out, that wasn’t my goal, but you can find different paths in the police department than you expected.”
He said he hoped to work on bringing back a summer program for kids. The program was popular, he said, but slowed down after a venue change.
“When we first started it, we’d have 25 kids come out for the program. The year before our last year, I had like 103 kids out there in one day,” Young said. “That’s one of the big things we’re going to work on, getting the summer program going again. There’s a lot of those kids who really look forward to it.”
He didn't plan to change that much else, Young said. He described how important it is to remain consistent, saying the police department is already in pretty good shape.
“I like the way our department is set up. We’ve all worked hard, and I want to keep the tradition going,” Young said. “We’ve got it working really well, and if it ain’t broke, we’re not fixing it.”
Young continued, “A lot of people think a change in chiefs means a change around here. But we’ve got a real structure, we’ve got it the way we like it and that’s how we’re going to keep it going.”
No matter what, Young said, he thinks of the community first.
“The police department is here for the community, and we will always be,” Young said. “We’re going to continue bettering ourselves to make everyone safer.”