O’Brien named assistant police chief


A 24-year-veteran of the Seymour Police Department has become the newest assistant police chief.

Detective Sgt. Greg O’Brien will help lead the department alongside new Chief Bryant Lucas.

Lucas made the announcement Monday morning as one of his first official acts. The two were joined by new Mayor Matt Nicholson before the department met for its first staff meeting of the year.

Nicholson welcomed O’Brien to the administrative team.

"I’ve got faith in you," he said.

"I think he’ll do a fantastic job," Lucas said of O’Brien. "His relationship with the community and his relationship here within the department and the work he has done both with budgets and purchasing make him a good fit for this."

O’Brien’s appointment is effective immediately. He replace former Assistant Chief Craig Hayes, who retired Dec. 31.

Lucas said he opened up the assistant chief position to candidates within the department first. There were six qualified candidates interested, which he then interviewed for the job, he said.

"I shared my thoughts with the mayor, and he agreed with my assessment," he said.

Although technically the assistant police chief is a mayoral appointment, Nicholson wanted Lucas to have the final say.

"I didn’t want to choose Bryant’s second-in-command," Nicholson said. "I think it was important for Chief Lucas to get to choose and be able to work with that person, so I wanted that to be chief’s choice versus me sticking somebody in there, and I think he made a great choice."

In his career with SPD, O’Brien has held many titles and positions, including Jackson County’s first school resource officer.

He’s excited about having he opportunity to learn something new and exercise his brain more, he said.

Originally from Lawrenceburg, he was hired in February 1996 after graduating from Vincennes University. He has been a detective with SPD for the past 15 years and for several years has been in charge of purchasing vehicles, weapons, equipment and uniforms for the department.

"I’ve always wanted to move up in the department," he said. "I was a patrolman and always wanted to be a sergeant. I became a sergeant and wanted to become a detective. I felt like as my maturity in law enforcement has gone up, I’ve always wanted to move on up."

Sixteen years ago, he was elected to the local police pension board, which serves as a checks and balances system for hiring police officers. He serves as secretary of the board and is responsible for creating a budget to pay retired police officers. He then began helping with the regular department budget.

He will have to step down as secretary from the department’s collective bargaining team, which he has been doing for 20 years.

But he plans to stay involved with community activities, along with his wife, Christine, and children, Caleb and Allison, with Sertoma Club of Jackson County and its annual Christmas Miracle project and the Fraternal Order of Police Donald M. Winn Lodge 108’s Cops and Kids program.

Lucas said O’Brien will continue to help with those areas but also will have other responsibilities.

"The way I like to do things is there’s nothing done in a silo," Lucas said. "I don’t make all the decisions. There will be decisions I have to make, but I’ll do that in consult with the staff. I believe in transparency. That’s a very valuable piece, both internal and external. The officers need to know why we make decisions, and the public needs to know why."

O’Brien said he is impressed with Lucas’ willingness to talk with and involve all SPD employees.

"It doesn’t have to be hard," Lucas said of communication. "It’s just something you have to take the time to do. We’re going to get there and improve that as a department and for everybody."

Eventually, the department will have to hire a couple more officers to be at full staff, Lucas said.

"We’re actually getting ready for the hiring process," he said. "We have the physical fitness and testing on (Jan.) 11."

The department received a total of 53 applications for the positions, Lucas said.

Although there are changes happening within all city departments, Lucas said he likes to think of it as progress and not remaining stagnant.

"People get worried about change," he said. "But everyone seems excited. I’m excited to move things forward. We should always be looking on ways to look forward and better serve the community." 

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