NORMAN — From day one of his law enforcement career, Keith Humphrey knew he wanted to be a police chief someday.
Starting out, though, he aimed for a patrolman job with the Dallas Police
To his surprise, he was turned down by the department after an interview in which he was told, “you're too sensitive — too nice” to be a Dallas police officer, Humphrey said.
Now the new police chief in Norman, with more than 24 years of law enforcement experience under his belt, Humphrey, 47, says, with a shrug, “It was their loss.”
Humphrey was accepted by the Fort Worth, Texas, Police Department, where he served six and a half years, followed by a 14-year run with the Arlington, Texas, Police Department. Twenty years into his career, he resigned to become the police chief of Lancaster, Texas, a Dallas suburb not far from Oak Cliff, Texas, where he was raised.
His career goal met, Humphrey had no way of knowing his biggest challenge lay ahead.
On June 20, 2010, Humphrey was leaving his office to celebrate not only Father's Day, but also his wedding anniversary, when the staccato sound of a police radio and a dispatcher's terse relay, “officer down,” shattered his world.
“It was the darkest day of my life,” he said.
Officer Craig Shaw was killed in a shooting at an apartment complex along with a 23-year-old visitor to the complex. Both were shot by David Brown Jr., the son of Dallas Police Chief David Brown.
The younger Brown also died at the scene.
“I'll never forget it. No words can describe what it feels like. I was very close to Craig. Doubly tragic was that the shooter was the son of the Dallas police chief. It was a very dark time,” he said.
In Lancaster, Humphrey headed up a department of about 70 officers.
In Norman, he commands almost 150 commissioned officers. With a new public safety sales tax fueling the hiring, the department is expected to top 170 officers by 2016. He's the first black police chief to serve in either city.
“My immediate plan is to meet every member of the department. I want to know every officer. I need to know them. I need them, and they need me. We're a team, and that's how it works. You work together as a team,” he said.
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