Highlands Police Chief accepts offer to lead Franklin PD

Highlands Police Chief Bill Harrell submitted his resignation today to take a position as the next Town of Franklin Chief of Police. 

Harrell has been a part of the Highlands Police Department for almost 15 years and said those who choose a career in law enforcement make sacrifices, and he could not have made this transition without the support of his family.

“I would like to start by recognizing my family for their unwavering support, patience and grace for this career path we have been invested for almost 27 years and it certainly hasn’t been easy considering all the sacrifices of missed birthdays, holidays, vacations and other special occasions,” he said. “They’re the bomb!”

Harrell added that after over a decade in Highlands, he’s going to miss those he worked with and the community as a whole.

“I’d like to give a shout out to the Town of Highlands for their leaderships support,” he said. “It has been an incredible journey that I do not take for granted and I am forever grateful in their role of shaping me for my service there and this next chapter in my career. I am also eternally thankful for the comradery of my colleagues, HPD Officers and staff, ToH staff and last but certainly not least, the ToH community. It has been a blessing beyond measure for the friendships developed and fostered by the loving hearts of the community and they will be sorely missed, but never forgotten.

Highlands Mayor Pat Taylor said during Harrell’s time in Highlands he has served with faithfulness and distinction, and he’s sure Harrell will do the same in Franklin.

“During his tenure as the Highlands Police Chief, Bill Harrell has led the department in becoming one of the best trained and professional law enforcement organizations in Western Carolina,” said Taylor. “He has acquired many grants and recognitions for the department. Under his guidance the department has state of the art equipment and has built strong community police relationships. He is a law enforcement administrator with a long list of professional accomplishments and credentials. Chief Harrell also has strong professional and personal character that makes him a leader.”

Highlands Town Manager Josh Ward said Harrell is a strong leader and he will be missed.

“I would like to thank Chief Harrell for his 14-plus years of service with the Highlands Police Department,” said Ward. “During his tenure, Chief Harrell has presented strong leadership and has elevated the Highlands Police Department to a high level of professionalism.  His education and training requirements for his staff have led HPD to become one of the most proficient departments in Western North Carolina.”

Harrell said being Chief of ToF PD has always been a dream.

“Regarding this dream from the time I was a rookie for the Town of Franklin almost 27 years ago, I am nervously excited for this opportunity,” he said. “I have traveled for the experience of other agencies that would inevitably mold me for this transition and I look forward to getting to know and serve with the ToF leadership, police department, and other ToF departments. I would be remissed if I didn’t say that I am anxiously optimistic to continue to raise the bar for the police department for the betterment of public safety for everyone and I look forward to sharpening the strong talents, abilities and potential that I have recognized FPD Officers and staff possess.”

Harrell’s last day will be June 1 and Ward said the Town will post the vacancy soon to begin the search for his replacement at HPD.

In his new position, Harrell is replacing former Franklin Police Chief, David Adams.

“The Town of Franklin is pleased to welcome Chief Harrell,” said Franklin Town Manager Summer Woodard. “His experience, education and proficiency will be an asset to the Franklin Police Department. He is an established leader in our community who is familiar with the Town of Franklin and Franklin Police Department. Chief Harrell will be a great addition to the Town of Franklin.”

Chief Harrell began his career with the Town of Franklin as a patrol officer before continuing his career with the Morganton Public Safety Department, Hickory Police Department, Macon County Sheriff’s Department and eventuallly, with the Highlands Police Department where he served as Police Chief for 15 years.

Chief Harrell has a S.S. in Criminal Justice from Western Carolina University as well as a Master of Justice Administration from Methodist University, graduating Magna Cum Laude from both.

Among Harrell’s many accolades, he is also a graduate of the North Carolina Justice Academy Management Development Program and a graduate of the West Point Leadership Program.

“Chief Harrell has an outstanding list of accomplishments in the field of law enforcement,” said Franklin Mayor Bob Scott. “He is a graduate of many of the top-level management courses offered by the NC Justice Academy and universities. He has a record for being a leader in the criminal justice system with a long-range vision while putting into practice the latest in technology and community-oriented policing.”

Photo courtesy of Chief Bill Harrell.

Article by Brian O’Shea
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