After 12 years as Pineville Police Chief Donald Weatherford is retiring. ABC 31 News’ Joel Massey spoke with him about the changes to the department and what’s ahead for him.
Weatherford said, “One of the biggest concerns I had in making the decision was my men and women that served for me. They’re a great bunch of folks.”
On July 27th Pineville Chief of Police Donald Weatherford announced his retirement which will happen on October 15 of this year marking exactly 12 years since he took the position. He will have 38 years of total service.
“I grew up in a law enforcement household. My dad retired from the Rapides Parish Sheriff’s office. It’s what I knew growing up. Alexandria gave me a chance as a 20-year-old to go to work.”
He started as a jailer then worked dispatch, attended the police academy then in 1991 became a detective working burglaries first then homicide and robberies.
“Course you do help get bad guys off the streets that’s a big part of it, helping your neighbors, helping your citizens you represent victim’s families.”
One solved case that made an impact on Weatherford was the Rita Rabelais homicide in 1994. She was an elderly lady killed in her home.
“Nine defendants were arrested, there were convictions in all nine cases. That was a significant homicide in any career and unfortunately it happened here in Alexandria. But I’ve made lifelong friends out of the Rabelais family… And I still keep this file with me this case the Rabelais file, because believe it or not after all these years there are still appeals.”
Weatherford says has seen a lot of changes in his nearly 40-year career.
“Forty years ago your night stick was your best friend. That was your biggest tool that you could use. Now we have things that will help restrain and subdue irate persons without harming them… Training has evolved tremendously. The diversity in your department, how we try to reflect more of our community than it was 40 years ago. I’m glad that we have 12 female officers. That was unheard of 40 years ago.”
The chief was instrumental in female Patrolman First Class Peyton Adkins becoming an officer.
Adkins said, “He’s been a great chief. Whenever I first started he was the one that pushed me to get into this profession. He was one of the only one who actually believed in me and I’m so thankful for him.”
Weatherford spoke on the rise in crime he’s seen in the area recently.
“Weapons cases have increased in the last year or two probably since the start of Covid I don’t know if it’s because people were stuck at home joblessness, I’m not sure of the cause… The drug war continues, fentanyl has been a big impact heroin has made a comeback.”
HE has this to say about his tenure at PPD and the upcoming changes.
“I want to say thank you to the city of Pineville we’ve got tremendous support from our citizens here at the police department. I look forward to Mayor Dupree and what he can do with the same council that he inherited. I want the department to continue to grow. So, whoever becomes the next chief should have a firm foundation to build and grow on”
The Pineville mayor’s office has said that they won’t announce an interim chief until Chief Weatherford’s retirement becomes official October 15th.