CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – David Crockarell, a 25-year veteran of the Clarksville Police Department, was sworn in as the city’s 17th Chief of Police Tuesday in a ceremony that included a warm farewell to retiring Chief Al Ansley and a series of promotions within the department.
“Thank you Mayor Pitts and thank you members of the City Council for this appointment and for your having confidence in me as I attempt to fill some very big shoes,” Crockarell told the crowd gathered at the Wilma Rudolph Event Center. “I also thank the men and women of the Clarksville Police Department for supporting me in this challenging endeavor. Let it be known that I will work very hard to keep this agency one of the best Police Departments in the country and the best Police Department in the State of Tennessee.”
Crockarell, 48, whose father was a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, was born in Germany and raised in military communities.
He joined the Clarksville Police Department in 1995 as a patrolman and steadily rose through the ranks as an investigator, and later as a patrol sergeant for seven years. In 2006 he was promoted to Tactical Unit Commander. He achieved the rank of lieutenant in 2008 and served as Training Director through 2011.
Promoted again to captain, Crockarell served as District One Commander from 2011 to 2017 and as Special Operations Commander in 2017 and 2018. In August 2018, Crockarell was promoted to Operational Deputy Chief, in command of all Policing Districts, the Special Operations Unit, the Traffic and Special Events Unit and the Community Relations Unit.
Crockarell also spoke of the challenges facing police across America in the wake of George Floyd’s death while in custody in Minneapolis and the resulting waves of protests.
“The challenges ahead are well known to every person in the room. … (But) let me also make something clear,” Crockarell said. “Despite the narrative that you see across your television daily, I am proud to be a police officer. I was proud yesterday, I am proud today and I am going to wake up proud tomorrow. My badge is not tarnished. My badge shines like gold and so do the badges of nearly one million law enforcement professionals in this country.”
Crockarell took much of his time at the podium to express his admiration for Chief Ansley.
“The most important thing to show today is our appreciation and respect for Chief Al Ansley. As a mentor to many, including myself, Chief Al Ansley has been the port in a storm for this Police Department for 13 years,” Crockarell said. “Chief Ansley has built a strong foundation for me to build around, and I want to make sure that all in attendance know that today is more about showing him our appreciation and less about my promotion.”
Over the past 13 years, Chief Ansley has been a driving force in modernizing the department, administratively and technologically. Growth and improvement have been the hallmarks of his leadership of the department, which has grown to nearly 400 employees, with some 315 of those being sworn law enforcement officers.
In 2007, he began a push for the department to obtain a national accreditation through the Coalition of Accredited Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), and his efforts came to fruition in 2010 when the department received its initial accreditation. The department is on track to receive its fourth CALEA certification in 2020. Last year, the department completed implementation of body-worn cameras and related technology for the entire sworn force.
“This department is strong, and we made changes to our policy, and procedures years ago that are now being discussed nationally,” Ansley told the crowd. “These include addressing the use of choke holds, implementing comprehensive use-of-force reporting, practicing de-escalation, amending our use-of-force policy, and stopping strategies that may have a disparate impact on neighborhoods within our community.
“We also made a commitment to accountability. We have condemned the actions of bad police officers, held our own accountable, and have not hired officers who have been fired by other departments just to put a body on the street,” he continued. “We have never sat on our hands or ignored ongoing issues in law enforcement nationwide. ... The most vital component of accreditation is that the men and women of this department bought into the process from the top down. Your officers are professional, well-trained and committed to this community.”
Ansley, always looking out for the welfare of the department, concluded with a pitch for continued support and better pay for Clarksville Police Officers: “If you want to maintain a professional well-trained department I ask you to support a competitive compensation plan for them,” he said.
Mayor Joe Pitts swore in Chief Crockarell and thanked Chief Ansley for his long and successful leadership of the department.
“When we started our search for a new chief, Deputy Chief David Crockarell’s name kept coming up,” Mayor Pitts said. “I heard it from a local judge, and from leaders at Fort Campbell. Many said it was clear that David Crockarell deserved strong consideration. Indeed, we concluded he is the best choice and will be a great leader. I am so excited about our department under the leadership of David Crockarell. He will accept nothing less than the best.”
Mayor Pitts also noted in his remarks that a comprehensive public safety pay study had been completed and a plan for better police and fire service pay would be presented later this year for consideration by the City Council.
Also Tuesday, Charles “Ty” Burdine was sworn in as Operational Deputy Chief, taking Crockarell’s former spot in the command structure. Other promotions were:
Steven Hamilton to Captain.
Benjamin Blackmon to Lieutenant.
Griffie Briggs to Lieutenant.
Lisa Fatula to Sergeant.
Channing Bartel to Sergeant.
Robert Blamer to Sergeant.
The department also introduced a number of newly promoted detectives. They are:
Samantha Kellett, Douglas Terrill, Cody Deskins and Ben Goble.
Steven Cash, Carl Jackson and James Howard.
Mayor Joe Pitts and Cynthia Pitts congratulate new Clarksville Police Chief David Crockarell and his wife, Lori, (center) after the swearing in ceremony Tuesday morning at the Wilma Rudolph Event Center. City officials and Clarksville Police also said farewell to retiring Chief Al Ansley.