When City of Berea Police Department Chief David Gregory becomes city administrator this month, he’ll start the job with a few rules in mind. Some of them he learned from his Public Administration studies at EKU. Gregory, 47, graduates with his master’s degree in December. Other lessons he’s learned during his 22-year tenure as a police officer, and then, as chief of police.
Among the most important rules, said Gregory, is when you have good employees, let them do their jobs. “I don’t micromanage. I let my employees do what they do best. Make sure the ship is heading in the right direction. If it veers off, it’s time for me to come in and make a correction,”
Gregory said. “My job as a city administrator is to make sure I have the right people in the right seats. I think we have that now, and that part of the job is easy when you have excellent employees and department heads like we do. Our staff is really in good shape.”
Maintaining open communication with the public is another important rule, Gregory said, which was a lesson he learned years ago. In 2011, law enforcement in general was going through a difficult phase. Public confidence in the police was shaken, so Gregory started community forums to let citizens be heard, but also to allow police officers to explain their roles in enforcing the law.
“I think my top priority, and something I feel we’ve done in the police department, is building public trust,” said Gregory. “That may be something I have to do from the city’s perspective to be transparent on what we’re doing and the decisions that are being made. That includes conveying the mayor’s vision, what his goals are, then getting them out there.”
A clue as to what that might look like would likely be Berea Mayor Bruce Fraley’s efforts to invite input for the city’s strategic plan. Gregory notes the mayor has made a special effort to reach out to interested parties, whether it is local industry or community groups, to insure they have an opportunity to contribute to the goals and ideas behind the city’s long-term strategic plan. Gregory said that approach is consistent with his belief that people have a need to feel like they are heard and that they have a voice.“I think Mayor Fraley is doing an excellent job with this strategic plan idea,” Gregory said. “Getting everybody’s input for how we’re going to go ahead in the future.”
As he looks back on 22 years in law enforcement, Gregory said he is grateful for some of the things he was able to accomplish, including getting the police department into a better workspace, launching a program for officers to wear body cameras, or endorsing an initiative in local schools to help fight the drug epidemic: Too Good for Drugs. After over two decades in policing, Gregory admits it won’t be easy to leave law enforcement, though he’s excited about making a new kind of contribution to the community.“I’m looking forward to working with our council, the mayor and our elected officials in Richmond and the county. This county has so much going for it that we’re just blessed to be in the position we’re in and so is Berea,” he said.
Gregory will officially take charge on August 19, while his soon-to-be predecessor, Randy Stone, will stay on board until October 1. Gregory said Stone leaves huge shoes to fill.“I don’t think anybody can replace him,” Gregory said of Stone. “I just hope I can walk the path that he’s created and continue that vision and focus. He’s taught me so much and his leaving is a huge loss to the city. He’s been a mentor to me definitely for the last five years, and he’ll be missed.”
That being said, Gregory said he is hoping to find new ways to help the respective city departments and their employees work together to serve their community, perhaps revealing what might be one of the most important rules of all. “It’s all about providing efficient and effective service to our community. That’s what government should be,” Gregory said.