Policing Paducah

NEW CHIEF BRANDON BARNHILL HAS SEEN IT ALL FROM THE BEAT ON THE STREET TO THE TACTICS AT THE TOPTO THE TACTICS AT THE TOP

policingPaducahBrandon Barnhill climbed the Paducah Police Department ladder from patrolman to chief. In between, the Metropolis native headed the Special Weapons and Tactics Unit, better known as the SWAT Team.

The city’s top cop said he is often asked about his favorite police duty. “Detective work,” he replied with a smile. “Detectives are really fact-finders. You have to use your brain to solve crimes. You dig in and let the facts guide you. It’s really challenging work.”

Some kids say they want to want to be policeman or firefighter when they grow up. Barnhill wasn’t among them.

“Athletics was a big part of my life—football, basketball, and baseball,” said the Massac County High School grad who earned a Bachelor’s Degree in criminal justice from Murray State University and added a Master’s Degree in the subject from Andrew Jackson University.

Barnhill is also a graduate of the Southern Police Institute’s Administrative Officers Course/Executive Program, the FBI’s Law Enforcement Executive Development Course, and the Kentucky Department of Criminal Justice Executive Development Program.

Barnhill also belongs to the Fraternal Order of Police, International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Kentucky Association of Chiefs of Police, and the Law Enforcement Executive Development Association. In 2011, the chief won the first “Young Leader of the Year” award for outstanding career achievements and for contributions to western Kentucky communities.

He made his career choice in college. “I got interested in law enforcement when I was a sophomore at Murray and that attracted me to the Murray Police Department. I fell in love with police work and was hired as a dispatcher on the day I turned 21.”

That was in 1995. He made patrolman on the Murray force before transferring to the Paducah PD in 1998.

Barnhill, who was named chief last fall, met his future spouse, Renee Stivers of Paducah, at Murray State. “We came back to Paducah because we wanted to be closer to home,” the chief said. He ended up serving and supervising in all divisions of the Paducah department. Patrolman Barnhill became a detective, sergeant, captain, assistant chief, and SWAT Team commander.

He said his top mentor in the detective division was Gary Reese, now a criminal justice professor at West Kentucky Community and Technical College. “Gary encouraged me to teach criminal justice as an adjunct at the college,” explained Barnhill, which brings the PPD chief full circle—back to the college campus environment where he first found his passion for criminal justice.