February 1, 2021 will mark 50 years since the Brentwood Police Department was created. Chief Howard Buttrey was hired to oversee the department development and for the first two months, he was the only employee. Buttrey obtained a $40,000 grant from the federal government and on April 1, 1971, Buttrey hired three officers and the Brentwood Police Department began full time patrol of the city within one officer assigned to each of the day’s three shifts. Fifty years later, there are 67 sworn officers, including one K9 patrol team, twelve 911 dispatchers and six administrative personnel, a mobile crime scene investigation unit and a new headquarters building set to open this spring.
February 1 is also a special day for two of the three men who have served as Chief of Police, as that is the day they were hired. Buttrey served as the first Chief in 1971. Current Chief Jeff Hughes was hired February 1, 1986. Chief Ricky Watson was also hired in 1986 and served for 25 years.
Chief Hughes has served with the department for 35 of the 50 years. He credits his predecessors for setting the department’s foundation for what it has become today. “Under Buttrey’s leadership, the department became internationally accredited through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. in 1989 and remains the most tenured agency in the state of Tennessee to be accredited,” Chief Hughes said. After 29 years of service, Buttrey retired in 2000 and was succeeded by Chief Ricky Watson who continued to progress the department focusing on technology and training. Watson retired in 2012 and Chief Hughes became only the third chief in the department’s history.
The City of Brentwood and the Brentwood Police Department have several special things planned for the community to enjoy this year. Officers will begin wearing a special commemorative badge in March. The badge includes an old model police cruiser, the new headquarters building and the number “1282” which is the employee number for Officer Destin Legieza, who was killed in the line of duty in June 2020. To date, he is the only Brentwood officer who has died in the 50-year history. Legieza’s family and several officers plan to attend National Police Week in Washington, D.C. in May to honor his memory.
The new 56,000 square foot police headquarters, currently under construction on Heritage Way, will open later this spring and include an outdoor memorial wall to honor those like Officer Legieza. Other names to be included on the wall will be department retirees who have served more than twenty years. Plans also include a sculpture of a bronze lion overlooking the memorial wall to symbolize the protective role of law enforcement officers and convey the strength, courage and valor that are hallmarks of those who serve and protect. The artist will have the sculpture completed just before the grand opening.
Chief Hughes said, “Proverbs 28:1 reads ‘The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.’ The lion has always been symbolic of courage to law enforcement,” Chief Hughes added. The idea is like the lions protecting their cubs at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington D.C. Last year, the community helped raise funds to pay for the lion structure. “It’s so reassuring to know that our citizens and business owners are willing to support us anytime we need their help,” Chief Hughes said. “Particularly in recent times, based on what we see going on around the country, this kind of support is the exception and not the rule. This is something that makes working in Brentwood so special and for that, we are truly grateful,” he added.
In less than two weeks, more than $45,000 was raised from private donations and a large donation from Kimbro Oil and Tri-Star Energy. “William Kimbro and his support for the Brentwood Police Department is well documented,” Chief Hughes said. “In 2002, Kimbro helped to buy rifles for all Brentwood Police Officers following the bank robbery and shooting that resulted in two officers being injured.”
The Brentwood Police Department anticipates moving into the new police headquarters building located at 910 Heritage Way in the next few months. The facility will allow the Brentwood Police Department to exist in their own dedicated and secured facility located more centrally to all of Brentwood. The facility will also include an indoor gun range, a state-of-the-art firearms simulation system and a community room that will also serve as the department’s courtroom. Plans are being made for a virtual grand opening due to COVID social gathering restrictions. A live stream of the event will allow anyone who wants to attend, to be able to safely attend the day’s celebratory event despite the ongoing pandemic.
Citizens are invited to like and follow the City of Brentwood’s social media pages as there will be several historical tributes to past and present leaders there throughout the year, department trivia, and facts about current officers.