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story.lead_photo.caption Carl Minden, who has worked for the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office since 1998, was recently selected as the new chief of police for the Bryant Police Department. He replaces former Chief of Police Mark Kizer. - Photo by Staci Vandagriff

One of Carl Minden’s biggest professional goals has been to be in a leadership position for a law enforcement department. In 2017, Minden ran for Pulaski County sheriff but eventually lost to the current sheriff, Eric Higgins. So when the opportunity to serve as chief of police for the Bryant Police Department became available, Minden jumped at the chance.

“It is a great opportunity,” Minden said. “It is a growing city, and it is a good-size department with a good reputation. It is not like you are going there and having to fix the ship — you just have to pilot it.

“Everything about it just seemed right.”

Minden was officially announced as the new Bryant chief of police at a press conference April 24. Minden replaces former Chief of Police Mark Kizer, who was terminated by newly elected Bryant Mayor Allen Scott in November.

“Honestly, after all the interviews we went through, I think [hiring Minden] is what is best for Bryant,” Scott said. “His experience is so well-rounded. He knows the administrative side of policing, as well as the tactical side, and that is real important in being a police chief.

“He strikes me as a remarkable man, and from the information I have gotten from a variety of other sources, overall, he is a good man and will do a good job.”

Minden has worked for the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office since 1998 and is currently a major over administrative services and criminal investigations. His first day with the Bryant department will be Monday.

“Bryant is a growing city but still has a small-town feel to it,” Minden said. “It is a little bit easier to identify with that one community, compared to what I do now, which covers about 800 square miles.

“[Bryant] really supports its police and fire departments, and I haven’t seen that since I worked for the Jacksonville Police Department.”

Minden was born in Pine Bluff but grew up in Clarksville, graduating from high school in 1990. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and sociology from University of the Ozarks in Clarksville in 1994. He said his reasoning for going into law enforcement stems from his father, Herman Minden, being a state trooper.

“My father was a state trooper, but he died when I was

6 years old,” Minden said, “but I was always kind of around it. We had friends who were police officers, and my stepdad, Dutch Houston, was an auxiliary deputy at one point for the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office.

“It was something I always saw as a way to serve and give back. I know it is the kind of standard, corny law enforcement answer, but to be honest, it is true.

“I think that’s why most of the guys do it.”

Former Pulaski County Sheriff Doc Holladay, who served in law enforcement for 47 years, said Minden is one of the most “well-rounded

individuals that I have ever

worked around, in terms of his knowledge of law enforcement and his relationship with his employees and citizens in the community.”

“[Carl] is very professional and is a by-the-book kind of guy,” Holladay said. “He is highly trained and is very thorough in accomplishing his tasks.

“He has trained a lot of people in the course of his career — in all facets of law enforcement. He is very highly thought of and respected by the personnel at the department.”

Holladay said Minden was actively involved in the department, heading up the prescription-drug take-back program, and he said Minden was also active in organizations in central Arkansas. As a volunteer, Minden said, he was involved with the Little Rock Civitan Club, Special Olympics Arkansas and the Little Rock Air Force Base Community Council.

“If you think about it, the chief is the face of the department, and it puts a good light on the department,” Scott said. “It gives everybody a sense of security, if you think about it.”

Minden said he implemented the drug take-back program 10 years ago, and it has become one of the two leading collectors in the state, next to Benton.

“If we can get those [drugs] out of people’s hands, where [the drugs are] not an option, it can really help our communities,” he said.

Wendy Sayer serves as mayor for Safety Town, which teaches kids and students about the safety procedures, such as stop, drop and roll, and other general safety information. She and Minden have worked together on the program for more than a decade.

“He is just so good with any age group,” she said. “He makes it so exciting to be a law enforcement officer. He is very approachable.

“He is such a positive role model. I’m a fan.”

She believes Minden was made to serve as police chief.

“He is a great leader and is extremely level-headed,” she said. “He is all about the community and is good with people of all ages, and he just wants to do the right thing.

“He doesn’t jump to conclusions, knows the right questions to ask and knows how to get to the root of what is really going on.”

She said Minden has held so many different positions in his career and knows all the angles of it.

“He wanted to be the sheriff. He wanted Doc Holladay’s job, but when he didn’t get it, [Minden] didn’t quit. He continued to do what he is supposed to do.

“That says a lot about a person.”

Sayer said Minden deserves the chance to be police chief.

Minden, who lives in Little Rock, said he does not expect to come into Bryant and make radical changes.

“I have some goals that are more philosophical,” he said. “I want us to be known as more of a professional organization, and I think that’s not too hard because Bryant is already known as such.

“I want the community to know that we are accountable to them — myself, especially. If I’m not doing something right, I want to be told so we can fix it.

“As far as set goals, it is hard to say because I am walking into it with a learning curve.”

He said he wants to sit down with the officers and see where to make improvements and if there are things they are working on, to implement them.

“I want us to keep moving forward in the right direction,” Minden said. “It would be wrong to have a preconceived notion of me going in with a bunch of goals that might not be necessary.”

Minden said he has already met with some of the officers, including the patrol staff, school resource officers, the administrative staff and dispatchers.

“I have also talked on the phone with several of them,” he said. “I’m getting to do it in baby steps.”

Holladay, who was the sheriff for 12 years in Pulaski County, said Minden has had a desire for some time to lead a department.

“I think Bryant made a wise decision in selecting him,” Holladay said. “I think he will do an excellent job.”

Scott said there were 22 applicants for the position. A selection committee narrowed them to eight, which included five external applicants and three internal, for the first round of interviews. From there, it came down between Minden and Kevin Webb, who works as a senior special agent with the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division in the narcotics section.

“I just felt like Carl would be a better fit overall,” Scott said.

One of the internal applicants for the position was interim chief J.W. Plouch. Scott said all three internal candidates are staying on board because “they are a vital part of our department.”

“I’ve had a good career,” Minden said. “If I threw my hat in the ring, I felt like I would have a decent shot at it, but you never know.

“After talking to the mayor and the selection committee, I think I fit that mold they were looking for. Hopefully, I can live up to that expectation.”

Staff writer Sam Pierce can be reached at (501) 244-4314 or spierce@arkansasonline.com.

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