Lexington welcomed its new police chief on Sunday with the swearing in of Lawrence Weathers, who promised a crowded Government Center that he would focus on community policing and commitment to the entire community.
Weathers, 54, started with the Lexington Police Department in 1989 and during his 27 years with the department worked in a number of units, including patrol, narcotics, internal affairs and special operations. He retired in July 2016 and became the head of law enforcement for Fayette County Public Schools.
Weathers’ work in the schools will help create an environment where “schools and city can work seamlessly together in problem-solving,” Mayor Jim Gray said at the swearing-in ceremony Sunday.
The ceremony was witnessed by Weathers’ fellow officers, representatives of other Lexington public safety departments and his friends and family. Gray said the crowd was a testament to the respect people in the community have for Weathers.
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“It’s one of the greatest days, I mean looking out there and seeing all of the people here that basically I grew up with, I came on with a lot of them on the police department and for 27 years they’ve been my friends,” Weathers said. “There’s so many people here who have helped me get where I am today, it’s just unbelievable.”
Weathers said after the ceremony that it was an emotional day.
“It’s really kind of surreal for me, because I just went through life doing what my mother told me to do, be respectful, be nice, be kind to everybody, keep your word, keep your promises,” Weathers said. “I guess it’s like she said, ‘If you do that everything will be great.’ She was right.”
Weathers said he has focused on community policing his entire career and intends to carry that with him as police chief.
“What’s going to be a challenge I think is getting that through to other people, the way that things should be done with policing and how policing can adapt and change,” Weathers said. “Some people have a very strict, very confined view of policing, but policing is not just locking people up and putting them in jail, it’s being part of the community, being involved.”
The first order of business, Weathers said, would be to speak with officers, staff and leaders in the department to learn what’s been working and what hasn’t. He said he intends to do the same for the community.
“We’ve got to go community by community to see what works for everybody,” Weathers said. “You can’t just throw a big net and address all the problems, you’ve got to single them out and focus.”
Weathers said he was ready to get to work, and Gray said he had everything he needed to get the job done.
“Lawrence’s experience on the police force, being a native of Lexington, growing up in Lexington, just gives him such an added advantage in the role that he’s got,” Gray said.
Weathers acknowledged that leading the city’s police force wouldn’t be an easy job.
“I understand the challenges of policing today,” Weathers said. “Being a chief of police requires a great dedication and commitment to the entire community, but it doesn’t just stop there. You have to have understanding and you have to have compassion.”