Things are once again humming at city hall.
Kennedale City Hall is showing definite signs of healing itself as the hum of activity can be heard in the halls again. The City had suffered an almost complete turnover in key staff over the past year, but a degree of normalcy is returning under the quiet and understated, but steady guidance of the new city manager, Darrell Hull.
The Kennedale City Council seemed to have liked Mr. Hull’s argument that Kennedale needed someone who knew the city, its leaders, and someone who had only the best interest of the city in mind. So far so good.
From street cop to the top …
While Hull is new to his current job, he has been in Kennedale for nearly three decades. He is widely known and seems to be respected by his peers and by those who know him through local organizations such as the Kennedale Chamber of Commerce, the Kennedale Rotary Club, and the Kennedale Economic Development Corporation (KEDC).
Locals have been introduced to him over the years as Officer Hull, Sergeant Hull, Captain Hull, and most recently Chief Hull, all with the Kennedale Police Department. He has served the department for 25+ years. Before Kennedale, he spent several years at police departments in Weatherford and Springtown.
He has been part of the total make-over of the local department. There was a time in the 90s and going into the early 2000s when Kennedale was known as a speed trap town and along with other questionable practices. It turned out that some officers, including the chief, made money off both suspect and outright bogus fines and tickets. It was not Kennedale’s finest moment.
Tommy Williams came in 2006 as the department’s new Chief and served up to last year when Darrell Hull was promoted to take over the department upon Williams’ retirement. Under Williams, the department’s integrity and reputation were re-established. Hull served Williams as Captain and Chief Operations Commander during that period.
Hull has a long list of completed professional management/leadership courses plus extensive administrative and supervision experiences as he moved up in the department. He is currently completing a degree in Criminal Justice.
Police officers have an up close and practical view of a city …
When ask about this transition from policing to a new occupation in city management, Hull responded by citing his long experience with the police department, saying that as a police officer, you get to know as much if not more about the city as any.
An officer has a personal up-close view of the city including residential areas, businesses and those who own/manage them, street conditions, traffic flow, drainage, and flooding issues. An officer also has a chance to experience in real-time the city’s response to emergency situations resulting from fire, storm, and floods, plus the city’s code enforcement issues. It is more than a bird’s eye view it is a street view of the strengths and weaknesses of the city.
Hull did talk about one specific example in his law enforcement career that impacted his view of what public service means. One of his early functions with KPD was to help implement the School Resource Officer program with Kennedale ISD and serve as the first SRO officer. For those who are not familiar with the term. A school resource officer (SRO) is a sworn law-enforcement officer with arrest powers who works, either full or part-time, in a school setting.
Hull’s experience with the SRO program helped consolidate his belief that an officer can serve more than to just enforce the law but also be part of a system that works to help solve problems.
Developing partnerships and connections within the city …
That thought is essentially the core of “community policing”. This is the concept that Hull strongly supports and which he was committed to as the Kennedale Police Chief. A working definition – Community policing is defined as encouraging interactive partnerships between law enforcement agencies, their officers, and the people they serve. By developing connections within the community, police are better informed and empowered to solve public safety problems. Read more
Hull believes that the same principles can be applied to the operation of the city.
Busy from day one …
Hull had been already been working on the job as the Council had asked him to step in and work temporarily as the city manager while the Council conducted a job search. He has been busy ever since. One of his main priorities has been to restore the city’s management team by filling empty department positions. Several positions have been filled but there are still three left.
He is looking for the best but he wants the individuals to be in alignment with the community and understand and, maybe, welcome the limitations of working in a small city with smaller resources but at the same time providing many opportunities.
Ask if it bothered him that these new hires will have advanced degrees and maybe a great deal more experience in city government. Hull replied, “Not at all, I hope to learn from them.”
Hull has informed the Kennedale City Council in his communications that he is committed to running the city efficiently, fairly, and consistently administrating the codes and ordinances of the city. He recognizes the need to plan for a changing landscape that surrounds the town, understanding that encroachment of residential development on the city’s west and south sides has and will have an impact and needs to be studied and prepared for.
But he wants to focus on the day-to-day operations for now while beginning to plan for the future.
The Kennedale News welcomes the new Kennedale City Manager and wishes him well in his endeavors.