It’s been quite a journey for Captain Ken Clark of the Berea Police Department. Starting as a police dispatcher nearly 30 years ago, Clark stayed on with the BPD and forged a career in law enforcement and public service. Though his tenure ended July 31 when he officially retired from the department, Clark still plans to continue serving his community. “Now I’m no longer required to work, but I can still serve by volunteering, and I can pick and choose and decide where I can do some good,” Clark said.
Captain Clark will continue his volunteer work at the Pregnancy Help Center, a cause he’s been involved in for decades. He’s also a leader in the Glades Christian Church, serving as senior Sunday school teacher, an elder, chairman of the board, and he’s a member of Gideons International, a fellowship of Christian professionals.
Clark said his strong faith provided a foundation that served him well in law enforcement, especially when it came to dealing with people. Recalling that he made mistakes when he was young, Clark noted he believes God has a role for everyone to play. “We all make mistakes. But do you learn from them and go on, or do you get deeper and deeper into trouble?” Clark said. “It took me a while to realize it, but police work has been my mission work for the last 30 years.”
Clark, who will turn 64 in September, has seen his share of changes since he began in law enforcement at the age of 35. Back then, the Berea Police Department had 15 sworn officers. Today it has 33 officers. In addition, the nature of the job has changed, in part, because of changes in media, which have affected public perceptions of police officers, Clark said.
“The job is more difficult because cops are being tried in the press,” Clark observed. “They are being tried in the court of public opinion. But the court of public opinion does not always know the job of a police officer. A cop has a split-second to make a decision, but the talking heads have three days to comb through it and point out all the mistakes the cop made. So it is harder.”
As Clark wrapped up his career last week, Berea city officials noted the community is losing an officer who has long been a calming influence in the department.
“Captain Clark was a significant part of an important department, having started as a dispatcher then working his way up,” said Berea Mayor Steven Connelly. “The breadth of experience he had in patrol, in dispatch, and in other operations is the kind of experience that will be sorely missed. He was also somebody that the new officers could rely upon for guidance.”
Berea City Administrator Randy Stone added Clark often served as an ambassador for the city and the police department, helping to explain police policies and field the concerns of citizens.