If you look at Chief Brian Mullins at the Eastern Kentucky University Police Department and what he's accomplished in his eight years as head of the agency, you probably wouldn't have guessed that he turned down the position when it was first offered to him.
"I was young, and I was like, it was just too soon," he said.
But when he was offered the position again a few years later, he said, "It made sense."
"I thought I could help. It was already going in a really good direction. I just wanted to keep it going that way," he explained.
The department, Mullins said, was always a good place to work. It was his first policing job in 1997 after he graduated from Lindsey Wilson College, and when he left the department in the early 2000s to work for the Richmond Police Department, it was a hard choice for him.
After working at RPD for a couple of years, he returned to EKU PD, mostly for education, he said, but other factors played into his decision.
"It was always a good place to work. They had gotten a new chief at the time, and he talked to me." he said. "It was a good change."
Mullins also explained working for the university police department is different than working for other police agencies, because students are normally 18-24 years old and impressionable. It also includes working events such as graduation, concerts, sporting events, governor visits, presidential visits and more.
"There's an education part of it, helping young people," he said. "That's nice."
Part of the department's education efforts also include preventive training and things like bystander intervention programs.
However, at the time he returned to the department, there were only 11 officers working there when there should have been 27 officers, Mullins said. They were working six 12-hour shifts. He laughed and said it meant he was able to get promoted.
But those working with Mullins said he's being humble, because since the promotions, Mullins has helped the department become better.
"The university's really supporting us more now than they ever have," he said. "We've worked on pay. Eastern's a great place to work. There's a lot of time off, a lot of benefits. We have the college to get your education paid for."
For example, officers with the department can now get hazardous duty retirement, which Mullins said was the biggest accomplishment the department attained. Additionally, when Mullins started working with the department, it operated on just one floor of a building on campus, whereas now it has its own building.
Another thing Mullins changed is allowing officers to work out while they're on shift, he said.
"If they're happy, then my job's easy," he said. "If you take care of the people that do all the work, then it's an easy job."
Mullins explained the employees and people at the department are also what makes the job so important to him.
"It really does feel like a family here at times," he said. "I mean, we have a great group of people right now. I'm surrounding myself with people that I probably should be working for, and then I've gotten out of their way for the most part, and let them do their thing. And it makes my job easier … Surrounding yourself with the right people makes all the difference in the world."
Plus, the department has received accreditation four or five times now, he said.
So when Mullins looks to what he wants to accomplish going forward, he said recruiting is one of the things he's working on for the time being.
"Right now, we're down two officers, so that's a big thing we're working on," he explained. "We'd love to increase our dispatch staff."
Otherwise, he's hoping to maintain things as they are, "because they're pretty good right now," he said.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Behind the Badge is a series published once a month in The Register to highlight first responders and those in any related field in Madison County. Know someone who has a good story to share? Email details to firstname.lastname@example.org.