New Bald Knob police chief William McGlothlin worked his way up to the position he’s now held since Oct. 20.
He was hired by Bald Knob Mayor Beth Calhoun to replace former Chief Jon Hopkins.
McGlothlin started as a part-time officer in April 2004 after taking a ride-along with a friend who was an officer.
“I got involved then,” he said.
McGlothlin, 47, was born in Louisiana, then moved to Mississippi for six years before finding his way to the White County town in 1989. He graduated from Bald Knob High School in 1990. McGlothlin previously worked for four chiefs, including Erek Balentine and Hopkins, who were previously hired by Calhoun, who was elected mayor in 2014 and was sworn in Jan. 1, 2015.
“I pretty much came in and did my job and did what was needed,” McGlothlin said of his time as an officer. “That was it.”
He added that he did not apply for the position of chief but was asked if he was interested by Calhoun, who said any person hired to a position has 90 days from the date hired as a testing period of sorts.
“Then after 90 days, if they feel that they can’t do the job, then he would let me know,” Calhoun said of McGlothlin. “But I think he’s going to be in for the long haul.”
As of now, McGlothlin agrees.
“It’s got its tasks behind it, but I’m enjoying it,” he said of the position. “As of right now, I’m just going to keep going until something changes within that 90 days. After 90 days, they will ask me what I think of it. As far as right now, I’m good to go.”
McGlothlin is in charge of six other full-time officers and four part-time ones.
“I’m trying to get more training for them,” he said. “That way they know they are doing the job right and feel good about it. That would be one of the things. We’re trying to better ourselves.
“I just foresee getting the officers good-enough training to see them safe out there and doing their job and doing it right. There are laws, and there are processes. We’ve just got to follow them and keep the show on the road and protect the city.”
One way McGlothlin stays in shape is through his martial arts gym that he owns in Searcy.
“I own a martial arts gym, so I train people for self-defense,” he said, adding that his gym teaches Brazilian jiu jitsu, kickboxing, fitness kickboxing and mixed martial arts.
“I do have some top fighters here in Arkansas that I coach,” McGlothlin said. “I have a couple of guys who fight on TV shows.”
McGlothlin got involved with martial arts in 1998. He opened his first gym in Cabot in 2009.
“The only reason I didn’t open one here is because they already had local gyms, and I didn’t want to be that guy who comes in and tries to compete against them,” he said. “Cabot didn’t have anything, so I went there. Then the ones locally left a few years later, so we moved over here.”
McGlothlin currently owns Barata MMA on Race Avenue in Searcy near Harding University.
“I enjoy it (MMA),” McGlothlin said. “It keeps you in shape. I eat what I want — Taco Bell every day. I’ve got a guy in there who is 60 years old. He loves to get out and train. I’ve got kids that we start at 5 years old. It’s not for everybody. It’s hard work. It’s not as easy as watching it on TV, but we are family-oriented. We don’t tolerate what I call thuggish attitudes.
“We don’t advertise a whole bunch. It pays the bills, the rent and keeps it going, and it gives people who are interested a place to train and stay in shape.”
McGlothlin has also fought several MMA matches. According to sherdog.com, McGlothlin won five professional fights.
“I was 28 when I started,” he said. “I didn’t really have any interest in taekwondo or anything like that.”
He said he was trained by a registered nurse in Searcy who had a night gym, but McGlothlin’s work schedule didn’t allow him to train often until he changed to a day shift.
“He would teach me at his house during the day,” McGlothlin said. “When I got to the shift where I could get full training, I did that.”
McGlothlin said he did the MMA fights for enjoyment.
“A lot of people take it as human cockfighting,” he said. “After we get done, we shake hands and take pictures together.
“Don’t get me wrong. There are some people who blow it up and make it a big deal, but most people are respectful. We get paid. We get flown places. I’m a legit trained fighter.”
McGlothlin said he had his last fight when he was 43. He had fought in Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas.
“Most of my time goes to the up-and-coming fighters,” he said. “I help coach and train. The rest of the time, it’s me, the wife and the dogs. We sit at home and watch TV and play with the dogs.”
McGlothlin also uses his gym as a way to help train police officers for free on Saturdays.
“I have people come from Little Rock,” he said. “I’ve had some … not a lot. They’d rather be doing something else with their days off, and I understand. But I do offer it if they choose to. For those who show up, if it’s one person, it’s one person.”
McGlothlin said his mindset is that every person his department arrests is 100 percent hands-on.
“Your gun is away, and your Taser is in your holster,” he said. “If something was to happen then, you’re too close to be pulling out your gun because you are now giving them access. You’ve got to go hands-on. So my thought process is, if I can give you all the immediate hands-on to make you comfortable with it, then that is less time than you actually have to pull out a lethal weapon and harm someone to defend yourself.”
Calhoun said she’s been pleased with the job McGlothlin has done during his short stint as chief.
“He has gone in and done a fine job,” she said. “I’m very proud of him. He’s been here for many years. It was just right for all of us, including the Police Commission, to make the decision. It was a good move.”
Calhoun said McGlothlin is a good administrator.
“He has gone in and made a lot of changes,” she said. “He’s trying to make the Police Department like team players. Everybody learns all the ropes instead of one officer doing one specific job. He’s trying to get everyone as a team player, where they all know what everyone is doing, so if something comes up on rotation or someone needs a vacation, then anyone can pick up on the job and do it sufficiently.”
After graduating from Bald Knob High School, McGlothlin worked for 21 1/2 years at the Eaton Corp. in Searcy, a hydraulic-valve company. He worked as a machinist for 13 years, then as a wing technician.
“They were having to cut costs,” he said. “The position I was in was not a production position. It made sense for the company to cut mine and another employee’s position out of that department.
“They have called me back a couple of times, but I chose not to go back.”
During his tenure as police chief, the Bald Knob Police Department has been active in the schools, in addition to its school resource officer,
“My officers do go work school zones,” McGlothlin said. “They are seen. We go up to the schools at random times and walk through the schools. We actually bring up the drug dogs and walk them through the schools, walk through the parking lots. We’ve done it two different times now and have yet to find anything. That is awesome.
“You can take it from the high school to the middle school and not find any drugs. That is a huge plus.”
McGlothlin has been married to his wife, Sherry, for 23 years. His oldest son, Eli, lives in Portland, Oregon. McGlothlin’s youngest son, Rudy, lives in Bald Knob.
Staff writer Mark Buffalo can be reached at (501) 399-3676 or firstname.lastname@example.org.