Highland News Leader

Bell’s legacy sets the compass for new Highland police chief

Highland Police Chief Chris Conrad speaks after being sworn in Monday, Nov. 19. Conrad said he hopes to follow in the footsteps his predecessor and mentor Terry Bell, who lost his battle with cancer in August.
Highland Police Chief Chris Conrad speaks after being sworn in Monday, Nov. 19. Conrad said he hopes to follow in the footsteps his predecessor and mentor Terry Bell, who lost his battle with cancer in August. kmansouri@bnd.com

It’s been nearly four months ago since former Highland Police Chief Terry Bell lost his two-year battle with cancer.

Bell served as Highland’s chief and public safety director for almost 10 years, building what his replacement, Chris Conrad, said is a legacy the city will grow on. Conrad said his friend and mentor’s work in Highland is something he hopes to emulate during his time as chief.

“He was a great friend and a fantastic mentor, Conrad said. “I hope to serve the city as well as he did. “

Flanked by his family, Conrad was sworn in as police chief Monday, Nov. 19 by Mayor Joe Michaelis after returning from 12 weeks of training at the Southern Police Institute in Louisville, Ky.

Shortly after Bell’s death, Conrad headed to Louisville to begin his training, where he studied the ins and outs of leadership in law enforcement. But, he said, a lot of what he hopes to use day-to-day will come from his time working with Bell.

“He was a fantastic mentor,” Conrad said. “He had a quiet calmness about him that taught me to be more objective with the way I handle things. As I go through and tackle different problems I’ll be thinking about how he handled situations.”

Conrad said he’s hoping he can mirror both the style in which Bell worked as a leader for the city’s police force and acted as a community leader.

Chris Conrad 3
Highland Mayor Joe Michaelis swears in new Police Chief Chris Conrad at a meeting of the city council Monday, Nov. 19. Kavahn Mansouri kmansouri@bnd.com

“I intend to work very hard to provide the leadership and service they have come to expect from their Chief of Police,” Conrad said. “I feel very fortunate to be given the opportunity to lead the fantastic employees of the Highland Police Department and to serve a community my family and I have made our hometown.”

He added that Bell developed a culture within the police force during his time as chief that has grown a partnership between police and community, one he hopes to continue to grow.

“Law enforcement is a partnership, it requires the department to work with the community to solve problems,” Conrad said. “Having that culture that Chief Bell put into the police department already is a fantastic tool that we’ll try to exploit as much as we can.”

At the Southern Police Institute, Conrad trained in police administration, resource deployment, research, civil and criminal law, budgeting and leadership. He said during his time at the institute he typed around 100 pages and read roughly 60 academic journals on best law enforcement practices, strategies, experiments and trends.

Before joining the Highland Police Department, Conrad served in the in the Army Reserve for 12 years based out of granite city. He also attended law school at St. Louis University’s School of Law.

He joined Highland’s police force in 2000 and served as a patrolman until 2009 when he was promoted to sergeant. In 2014, he was made a lieutenant.

As for the rest of the department, Conrad said the department will have some changes in the coming months, but for now will work to maintain training standards, seek more training opportunities and improve the department’s use of technology.

“Highland does very well in providing us the resources we need, so it will be our job to make sure we are using the resources productively and providing the services Highland deserves and expects from us,” Conrad said. “As technology evolves, we must evolve as well in order to provide professional and technically proficient services to our community.”

Mayor Micaelas also thanked Terry Remelius who served as the department’s interim police chief during Conrad’s training. Remelius stepped down from the city’s Police and Fire Commission to serve in the position.

He was reinstated to the commission at the meeting by the city council.

Kavahn Mansouri covers government accountability for the Belleville News-Democrat, holding officials and institutions accountable and tracking how taxpayer money is spent.
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