Riggs tapped for interim chief post in Vine Grove

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By Sarah Bennett

Nearly five years after then-mayor Donovan Smith demoted him to captain, Dale Riggs was tapped again to serve as Vine Grove’s police chief.

On Thursday, Mayor Blake Proffitt announced Riggs will fill in as interim chief until the city finds a permanent one, he said. With 29 years of experience at the Vine Grove Police Department, Proffitt referred to Riggs as the “obvious choice.”

Former Chief Steve Manning, 60, was removed from the position last Tuesday. Smith appointed Manning, a former state trooper, after demoting Riggs.

Riggs, 55, said his intention is to retire from law enforcement in August. By that time, Proffitt said he would like to have a new chief named.

“Contrary to what some people think, I didn’t have a preconceived notion about this,” Proffitt said.

Right now, the budget is “imperative” and will be the city’s focus through June, he said. He expects to begin the search for a police chief in July although the position may be advertised as early as June.

Proffitt said the city will look for candidates in and outside the city of Vine Grove.

Riggs said he started his law enforcement career as a patrol officer in Vine Grove in 1983. He eventually was promoted to lieutenant before Smith appointed him police chief in 2000.

In 2007, when Riggs was removed from the position, Smith said in an interview with The News-Enterprise there had been “trouble” within the department for years and the mayor wanted to take the department in a “new direction” with a “new philosophy.”

Throughout his 29-year career, Riggs has served under four mayors and three police chiefs, he said. He’s seen many officers move on to larger departments, but Riggs said he knew shortly after starting his career in Vine Grove he wanted to stay.

Although his intention has been to retire in August, Riggs said he can stay on if a new chief is not  named by that time.

During his short tenure as interim chief, he said he intends to “go on just like I have,” focusing on the quality of life and safety of the community in Vine Grove.

Although he said he would like to make some “departmental shifts,” Riggs said he will be performing the same job duties he always has.

“I’m the first through the door in the morning and the last one out at night,” he said.

Asked about ending his career with the title of police chief, Riggs said, “That was something I hoped to be able to do in my law enforcement career, is go out as chief.”

The veteran officer said he will be sworn in Monday as interim chief.

Sarah Bennett can be reached at (270) 505-1750 or sbennett@thenewsenterprise.com.