FULTON – Craig Westbrook has been serving the city of Fulton since July 2001, and began his promoted position of police chief almost two weeks ago.
Sworn in during the last week of December, Westbrook officially took over for the previous police chief, Orlo Green, Dec. 28, and described his first week as “chaos.”
“The first week was an experience, but I’m sure as I adjust to the things I need to do here in the PD and the things that go on outside that will smooth out and go a little bit better,” Westbrook said. “It’s just been a lot of activity in a short period of time.”
While transitioning to the position and learning its ins and outs, Westbrook also took on a number of incidents, including aiding the sheriff’s department Jan. 1 in locating a man arrested for shooting another man, responding to a pedestrian getting hit by a tractor trailer Jan. 3., and an apartment building fire Jan. 5. He said the investigations went well for all three incidents.
The police department is also adjusting to the recent bail elimination act passed in the state.
“Over the 18 years that I’ve been here, there’s times when nothing goes on for a period of time, then all of a sudden the floodgates open and there’s plenty of stuff to keep you busy,” Westbrook said.
He decided to go into law enforcement because of his uncle, who was a lieutenant in the sheriff’s department.
“I just thought it looked like a rewarding career,” Westbrook said. “It’s not the same everyday… Aside from getting dispatched to things, you are free to make the job what you want.”
He said he enjoys being able to work outside rather than being stuck in an office, reflecting his enjoyment of outdoors activities such as camping, ice fishing and hunting during his free time.
When he was first looking for a job following college, he wanted to stay in the CNY area to stay close to his hometown, Central Square. Shortly after taking civil service exams, he was hired by the Fulton Police Department.
Westbrook joined the Fulton police force in 2001 as a patrol officer, then throughout the years moved his way up in the department as a K9 handler, criminal investigator, sergeant, lieutenant, and then to his prior position, deputy chief.
He said throughout the time he has worked at the police department, his experience as a law enforcer has changed following each promotion by adding more administrative duties rather than responding to complaints or beginning investigations.
Westbrook also said that the climate toward law enforcement has also changed since he first began as a police officer 18 years ago.
“At times it does seem a little, somewhat like a thankless career, but then there are other things that are very rewarding and you just gotta do your job the best you can with the help of the people you work with and keep as positive an outlook as you can and realize it’s not all bad,” Westbrook said.
He said although he did not grow up in Fulton, he takes pride in the police department and wants to do his part in making things better in the community.
Among his goals he would like to achieve as chief, Westbrook said he would like to decrease the amount of physical paperwork within the department by better utilizing technology, such as computers in the patrol cars which he said are not used to their full potential.
“I’d like to at least have some wireless availability where officers can be out in the streets and be visible,” Westbrook said. “More opportunity to be proactive or just be a visual presence that may deter criminal activity… and make everyone else feel a little bit safer.”