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front & center: Billy Paul Baker

Mayflower police chief wants to expand department

By Caroline Zilk

This article was published July 18, 2010 at 2:48 a.m.

— Billy Paul Baker always wanted to be a policeman.

It was a profession his grandfather chose, and he has fond memories of riding in police cars as a child.

He wishes more children in Mayflower felt the same way.

“My pet peeve is when I’m in a store in uniform and a parent says to their child, ‘Don’t be bad or that policeman is going to take you away,’” said Baker, the new Mayflower police chief.

He wants children and adults to know that officers aren’t to be feared.

“Kids need to come up to us and actually be able to ask for help if they need to,” Baker said.

While working as police chief in Vilonia from 1997 to 2000, Baker held a Junior Police Academy for area youth.

“They get to watch videos. I get the drunk goggles and let them wear those,” he said. “It helps them get to know us as people, and they get some pretty good education.”

Baker has served as chief of the Mayflower Police Department since July 1, after Chief Dan Sutterfield resigned, but he already is making plans for a similar program.

“I love grants,” he said. “If you don’t ask for them, you can’t get them, and they are there for a reason - to help smaller agencies grow.”

Baker said he likes working for the small department, however. He oversees six full-time officers and three part-time officers. He said he does the same job as his officers.

“In a department this size there has to be some rank structure, but I work accidents, take incident reports, interact with the public. I do the same job they do,” Baker said.

Baker moved from the Vilonia Police Department to Mayflower on Jan. 1. He said he was happy to work as a patrol officer for acting Chief Robert Alcon and didn’t expect to be promoted to sergeant, let alone chief.

He hopes to inspire the quality of leadership in his own officers.

“You can’t hold people back and expect them to be happy,” Baker said. “You have to help them obtain their goals.”

Baker’s wife, Nikki, said her husband works hard to make sure everyone is working together and enjoying their jobs.

“He tries very hard to make them happy without crossing the line in any kind of way,” she said. “He’s a good guy, and he cares about people.”

For Baker, obtaining goals has meant a lot of hard work. He has operated his own construction business on the side since he was 16.

“Most police officers have to have two jobs,” Baker said. “Public service doesn’t pay real well. You have to want to do it for the right reasons.”

Baker said he usually works 10-hour days and returns to the station whenever he is needed.

“Him working long hours is OK,” Nikki Baker said. “I can tell it’s kind of hard on him, and he starts to get tired toward the end of the week, but he’s a strong boy.”

When Baker is not working hard on the streets of Mayflower, he enjoys mowing his yard, which he says is an escape from everyday life, as well as riding his motorcycle.

Nikki Baker said riding motorcycles is her husband’s form of therapy.

Baker is part of the Gun Riders, a law-enforcement-only motorcycle club, which just started a chapter in Faulkner County.

“We will do toy runs,” he said. “At Christmastime you buy a new toy and strap it to the back of your bike and ride to Toy Hill at War Memorial and donate the toy. It’s a great ride.”

Much of Baker’s work has been about the children.

After serving in the Army, Baker was drawn to the field of narcotics and drug prevention.

He said he’s enjoyed specializing in the area because he felt he was making the biggest difference.

“I always looked at it as ... if this one person that I arrested kept this one kid from getting on drugs and messing their lifeup, then my whole career would be worth it,” Baker said.

Drugs are not as much of a problem in Mayflower as they are other places, Baker said, but he is still working to prevent their sale and use.

“We have all got one life to live, and once it is lived, it is lived,” Baker said. “If someone has a chance to put their lives back on track, that’s great.”

Baker said the Police Department is getting back on track after a period of transition. Baker said he has no plans to leave any time soon.

“The person has to fit in, andI think I’m the right person for the job,” he said.

Mayflower Mayor Randy Holland agreed.

Holland said he and Baker “are on the same page for the town,” which is understanding that Mayflower is a small town. “We’re not Little Rock; we’re not the big towns. We’re Mayflower.”

Holland said Baker has the maturity the department needs, too.

“He comes in and talks to me every week about things that are going on around town or the Police Department,” Holland said. “It’s just a good feeling. I have a lot of trust in him and a lot of faith that he understands the direction I want the Police Department to go.”

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getting to know Billy Paul Baker

My favorite book is: Where the Red Fern Grows

My favorite movie is: Smoky and the Bandit

My favorite childhood memory is: My dad taking me fishing.

I don’t really have time to fish anymore. I went for the first time in

five years about three weeks ago. I caught a few little catfish.

My role model is: My dad. He’s always been a very generous,

very nice person. He’s very kind and caring.

My worst habit is: Smokeless tobacco. No plans to quit in the

near future.

Not many people know: I like to collect Dale Earnhardt

memorabilia to an obsession point. I’ve got two rooms full of

memorabilia.

Someday I will: Go to the Grand Canyon. I’ve been past the

Grand Canyon and over the Grand Canyon several times; I’ve

just never stopped. It’s pretty awesome out there.

If I didn’t live in central Arkansas: I would live in northwest

Arkansas. I love the state. I love the Razorbacks.

River Valley Ozark, Pages 156 on 07/18/2010

Print Headline: front &center B◊◊◊◊ P◊◊◊ B ◊◊◊◊

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karma002 says... January 21, 2013 at 11:12 a.m.

Gee, I wonder why kids are afraid of the cops. This article should be removed seeing how Mr. Front & Center is headed for jail. And rightly so.

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