DAPHNE — Daphne has a new police chief for the first time in 19 years, but he is not be new to Daphne law enforcement.Brian Gulsby was sworn in as chief Tuesday, Jan. 3, replacing David …
DAPHNE — Daphne has a new police chief for the first time in 19 years, but he is not be new to Daphne law enforcement.
Brian Gulsby was sworn in as chief Tuesday, Jan. 3, replacing David Carpenter, who retired after more than 32 years with the Daphne Police Department.
"I look forward to the opportunity," Gulsby said. "I've been with Daphne almost 26 years now in various capacities. I look forward to what I'm going to be able to do in this new position for the employees here and for the citizens."
Gulsby said he is preparing plans for the department and will discuss changes with Mayor Robin LeJeune and the city council.
He said one immediate need is to shift positions to accommodate changes created by Carpenter's retirement and his promotion.
"With my appointment, it's created moving all the way down to our lowest-level supervisor, which is corporal," Gulsby said. "So, we're kind of in the midst of promoting folks up the line for that. I won't be doing any major changes until we get all that settled."
One challenge facing Daphne and many other police departments is finding qualified police officers. He said growing communities such as Daphne have a particular need for new candidates.
"The population growth is a challenge," Gulsby said. "That's compounded by the fact that, nationwide, law enforcement is finding it hard to fill positions. There's just not as large a candidate pool as there has been in the past. People just are not looking to law enforcement as a career like they did even 10 years ago. So, we struggle to fill positions. We're a smaller department, so we don't have many openings at one time, but we still struggle to fill the ones that we have. The simple solution of adding more officers as the population grows, is not so simple when you can't fill the vacancies that you have already."
At the Jan. 3 meeting, the council recognized Gulsby and Carpenter, approving a proclamation recognizing Carpenter and presenting the retiring chief with his service pistol.
"This is a pretty emotional and meaningful night," the mayor told Carpenter. "Chief, thank you for everything you have done for the city of Daphne in your long service, and it has been a long service, a great service."
LeJeune said Carpenter created high standards for the department in his 33 years of service.
"One of the things that makes us so proud for our city is instilling the professionalism that you have instilled to our men and women in uniform and how they handle themselves with the public," LeJeune said. "One thing about Daphne and our police department that everyone says is how professional the interaction between them and the public is and that is because of your leadership that you've done here in Daphne."
Carpenter said the credit for the department belongs to the officers and employees. He said the department should do well under Gulsby's supervision.
"This doesn't happen because of me or Brian," Carpenter said. "It happens because of the men and women in blue. They keep this city safe. The fire department and the police department work well in the city and I'm sure they'll continue that with the leadership of Brian. I ask each of you for your support for your new chief. He'll do well."