By TAMMIE TOLER
After 25 years behind a Princeton Police Department badge, Chief William “Bill” Harman will soon break in a new uniform.
Harman announced this week that he will retire from Princeton Police Department on Jan. 13, 2012, and start his new job as a bailiff in Circuit Judge Omar Aboulhosn’s courtroom on Jan. 17.
“It’s bittersweet. I’ve spent more than half my life here,” Harman told Princeton City Council’s Public Safety Committee Wednesday, confirming the retirement reports. “...It’s been a pleasure.”
Harman has worked in nearly every position available at PPD, progressing through the ranks. In May 2006, the then-lieutenant was named acting police chief in the wake of Casey Martin’s retirement. In September of the same year, the promotion became official.
“I love police work, period,” Harman said. “Being chief is totally different than other police work.”
Over his years at PPD, Harman said many things have changed.
“I think we’ve done a lot of good things. Not me, but we,” he said.
During his tenure, the PPD has increased its force of officers and its fleet, expanded the availability and implementation of computers for reporting purposes, updated operating systems and installed video-recording devices in the police cruisers.
The process of investigation has evolved, too.
“Paperwork has increased tremendously. Technology — even just the last five or 10 years — has gone out the roof,” Harman said.
Each day on the job has been a surprise and adventure for Harman, who said he started work at the Princeton Police Department to build a career, not to find a stepping stone elsewhere.
“I didn’t come here intending to leave, but I didn’t know how long I would be here,” he said.
Harman has seen many cases come and go. Some of them will stick with him forever.
“Probably the saddest was the one with the little Goodman girl,” he said.
Harman was chief when Princeton Police received a missing-person report on Sarah Terry Goodman, who was once a classmate of Harman’s daughter. Soon, the young woman’s estranged husband confessed to killing his pregnant wife and unborn child in a fit of rage. He led investigators to her body he had placed inside a duffel bag and hid in the woods.
“We see a lot of sad things,” Harman said.
But, officers also have many opportunities to improve the community and forge strong friendships with city residents.
“We do everything. I’ve been a plumber, an electrician, a mechanic, a marriage counselor, you name it — a ride to the grocery store. We do everything,” Harman said. “It’s not Mayberry, but it’s pretty close here.”
While the retiring chief is leaving his post, he will still make Princeton home. He isn’t exactly sure what to expect of his new job, but he does have some ideas.
“I won’t be the boss anymore. I won’t have 24 people I’m responsible for. I answer to the judge, and it’s going to be a whole lot less responsibility,” he said.
There’s one thing that weighs heavy on his mind, though.
“For 25 years, I’ve known every day what I was going to wear to work. Now, I’ve got to coordinate. That stinks,” Harman said.
Wednesday, as City Council members took the opportunity to wish Harman well, City Manager Wayne Shumate said, “Needless to say, Bill has done a wonderful job, and I’m appreciative.”
“I would ditto that,” Councilman Dewey Russell said.
Shumate said the search for a new police chief will begin in coming weeks.
— Contact Tammie Toler at firstname.lastname@example.org.