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Sgt. Tim Cleary has served the Elizabethtown Police Department for more than three decades, working under six chiefs. Under Chief Tracy Schiller, he’s seen something unique.
Quarterly, Schiller holds employee meetings during which he makes sure each platoon and unit is represented so he can hear feedback from patrol officers, Cleary said. Commanding officers are not present during these discussions.
“That’s something I’ve never seen in my 33 years at this department,” Cleary said.
On Wednesday night, Schiller, who has led EPD since July 2011, was awarded Chief of the Year during the Kentucky Association of Chiefs of Police annual conference in Lexington.
This year marked Schiller’s first nomination for the annual award, which he described as a “very humbling” and “tremendous” honor.
“The reality of it is that this award in my mind and in my heart is the extension of what every man and woman in this police department has done to make this agency great,” Schiller said. “They’re the ones that have come up with some of the ideas we’ve implemented, that made these things happen, that had the faith and vigilance to stick with these programs to make them successful.
“I’m happy to accept the award on behalf of the entire police department because it’s their award and their honor,” Schiller added.
Maj. Troy Dye, the department’s deputy chief of administration, said a former coworker of Schiller’s at the Southern Police Institute contacted him last month about nominating the chief.
The process included securing letters of endorsement from community members as well as drafting a letter from EPD, Dye said.
Also in his nomination packet were a resume and a bulleted list of the chief’s accomplishments at the department, he said, which included items such as his employee meetings, his role in dedicating Hardin County as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area and the implementation of several new programs at the department.
“The man works all the time,” Dye said. “He’s constantly thinking about what can we do for the agency and the community. It’s always about how can we do things to get the community involved with us and us getting involved with the community. Because of this, those partnerships are starting to grow more.”
Since Schiller began his tenure as police chief, the department has launched numerous new programs, including a permanent prescription drug takeback disposal site, a K-9 unit, development of department chaplains, a Teen Citizens Police class and a Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association, according to EPD.
Cleary said the drug disposal site has been emptied 87 times since its installment in March 2012 and more than 280,000 items have been destroyed.
Elizabethtown managed to secure a K-9 unit through Schiller’s connections with the Louisville Metro Police Department at a significantly reduced cost, Mayor Edna Berger said.
“They gave us that dog,” she said.
In his two years as chief, Schiller has “exceeded expectations,” Berger said.
“We knew when we hired him we were fortunate to have someone of that caliber,” she said.
Maj. Jamie Land, deputy chief of patrol, said Schiller is “hands down” the best boss he has had.
“He cares about people,” Land said, “and I think that’s what makes him a great leader.”
Schiller said the implementation and success of these programs and his meetings with patrol officers and supervisors are “intimately connected.” According to Schiller, many of the programs came from the ideas of staff members.
“When you include that many people in inputting information and helping design different issues or coming up with ways to solve a problem, your chances of coming up with tremendous ways to address it, it’s unlimited,” he said. “That’s when you become truly innovative.”
Sarah Bennett can be reached at (270) 505-1750 or sbennett@