Former mayor, longtime police officer retires

Tommy Mumert/Contributing Writer Published August 13, 2017 at 12:00 a.m.
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Tommy Mumert/Contributing Photographer

Sgt. Alan Bradley of the Russellville Police Department greets well-wishers at his retirement reception Aug. 3. He said he was overwhelmed by the turnout of friends, fellow officers and citizens. At right is Bradley’s wife, Sandy.

RUSSELLVILLE — Alan Bradley recently ended his almost 34-year career with the Russellville Police Department using the same simple philosophy that had guided him from his first day on the job.

“The bottom line is, as a police officer, I am a servant,” Bradley said.

That philosophy, which made him one of the most recognizable officers in Russellville, developed as a result of values instilled in Bradley by his father, who was also a police officer.

“He told me to treat everybody like I would want to be treated,” Bradley said. “And he told me that I am no better than anyone else, and no one else is better than I am. I have tried to live my life like that.”

Bradley, who has retired as the longest-serving office in the history

of the Police Department, has followed his father’s advice since joining the department on Nov. 2, 1983. A native of Mesa, Arizona, Alan Bradley brought police experience with him to the Russellville force. He had previously served in the Air Force’s military police and was a public safety officer at Arkansas Tech University for 18 months immediately before joining the Russellville Police Department.

From that first day on the job in Russellville, Bradley recalled another piece of advice from his father.

“He would say, ‘The grass isn’t greener on the other side. It just looks that way.’ So he told me to get some place, stay and make a career there,” Bradley said. And that is what he intended to do in Russellville.

That career with the Russellville force, which ended with his retirement July 31, meant a variety of roles for Bradley. He started as a patrol officer before becoming the department’s community-relations and crime-prevention officer. In that role, Bradley regularly donned the Scruff McGruff crime-dog costume. He recalled traveling around the state making presentations. Often, those presentations were on his days off.

“Helping children with the crime-dog program was special to me,” Bradley said. “I love children.”

As special as it was, Bradley knew changing roles would be necessary at some point.

“You’ve got to move on,” he said. “After you’ve done something for so long, I think you get stale. You always need to broaden your horizons.”

Those new horizons for Bradley included serving as a training sergeant, a SWAT team commander and a patrol sergeant.

Among those duties, Bradley said, his experience as a SWAT team commander stands out to him.

“I really liked the guys I worked with, and I really liked the team effort,” he said.

Bradley said when it was time to again change roles, he was glad to return to patrol duty, where he finished his career.

“I just love dealing with the people,” he said. And in Russellville, people are special, he added, and they appreciate the efforts of the police.

“Locally, I feel like there is a really good bond between police and the public.”

To maintain that bond, the right attitude is important, he said.

“I always hate it when a parent says, ‘You better be good. There’s a policeman.’ What that does is, that puts in that child’s mind that if he ever needs any help, [the police] is the last place he needs to go. You don’t tell your kids that,” Bradley said. “That kind of thing goes all the way up into adulthood.”

Those types of challenges aside, Bradley’s career “has been a great ride,” he said.

“I feel like everybody is called to do something in life,” he said. “And if they are performing their God-given calling, then they are satisfied, and work really isn’t work.

“And if they are not fulfilling that, they dread going to work every day. I never dreaded going to work at the Police Department.”

Outside of work, Bradley has had plenty to keep him busy. He is an ordained minister, and several years ago, he served a four-year term as mayor of Dover, the community where he lives, just north of Russellville.

“That was the worst decision of my life,” he said with a laugh. “I was pretty controversial.”

As his first term came to a close in 2010, Bradley’s wife, Sandy, had some health issues and did not want him to seek another term.

“As I look back on it, it was enough. A mayor can’t make anybody happy. I made mistakes. We all did. I was going to go in there and change the world, and [the aldermen] were saying, ‘No, you’re not.’ We all came together, though.”

That time as mayor did provide Bradley with a new perspective as a police officer, he said.

“What you think is right may not be someone else’s perception of what is right,” he said. “What may be important to you may not be important to an alderman. And as a police officer, sometimes I would think, ‘We need this’ or ‘That should be a priority.’ As a mayor, there are other priorities in the city.”

Bradley now serves Dover in a different capacity and is in his third term as constable for the town. And staying busy in the future will not be a problem for the 65-year-old Bradley.

He volunteers with the Pope County EMS and will teach some law enforcement classes for Arkansas Tech’s public safety office.

He is leaving a police department that he says is in good hands under the leadership of Chief Jeff Humphrey, one of 11 chiefs Bradley has worked with in Russellville.

“Since Jeff Humphrey has taken over as chief, he has really worked hard to make a lot of improvements,” Bradley said. “He is one of the chiefs I most respect.”

Humphrey became chief in 2012, “and I think he’s done more for the department in the short time he’s been there than anybody else I can remember,” Bradley added.

Humphrey said Bradley’s retirement leaves a unique void in the department. One of Bradley’s strengths, Humphrey noted, is his sense of humor. If a fellow officer was having a bad day or if an officer needed some encouragement, it was Bradley who could make the officer laugh, Humphrey said.

“Bradley had this sense of humor that could make people happy. We were talking about who’s going to fill that void. We haven’t found that person yet,” Humphrey said.

Plus, Bradley has been the face of the Police Department for so many citizens, Humphrey said.

“There is no officer down here, period, who has had as many thank-you notes or as many letters of commendation as Bradley. If you ask somebody if they know any police officers in Russellville, they will say, ‘Well, I know Bradley.’”

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