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Veteran lawman finds new life as small-town police chief
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Veteran lawman finds new life as small-town police chief




FREMONT — In December 2010, things didn’t look so good for Paul Moats. The law enforcement veteran was one of about 19 people who lost their job when Sheriff Calvin Woodard came into office in Wilson County.

"It was kind of heartbreaking to end a 20-year career at the sheriff’s office,” Moats said.

But today, everything has changed. Losing that job, part of an election-year shift in the sheriff’s office, was a "blessing in disguise.”

Moats, 45, quickly landed a job as chief of police for the town of Fremont in Wayne County and was sworn in April 1, 2011.

Moats is approaching two years in office and statistics show overall crime has decreased 20 percent in the town of 1,258 people.

And property crimes have shown a dramatic, 63 percent decline.

In 2011, there were 114 property crimes (37 were break-ins). In 2012, there were 42 property crimes (nine were break-ins).

Moats credits several key arrests in fueling this reduction.

"I’ve taken myself to a whole different level in law enforcement,” Moats said from his office in Fremont. "I think this was the path God chose for me.”

One of the first priorities was making sure the town had 24-hour coverage.

"It wasn’t like that when I first got here,” Moats said.

"We were having a large influx of breaking and entering and property crimes when I first got here,” Moats said. "We were having one or two a week just break-ins. I was able to determine a lot of these break-ins were occurring after the previous officers were getting off anywhere from 2 to 3 in the morning.”

Moats said it became obvious that the criminal element in Fremont was aware the officers were getting off early and the town was uncovered.

"So of course I immediately went to work on a schedule staying within budgetary guidelines,” Moats said. "We were able to come up with a schedule to provide 24-hour coverage. They were also understaffed.”

 

SETTLING IN

The first six months on the job also served to evaluate the officers and talent on the police force.

"There was a certain personality that I wanted here in Fremont,” Moats said. "I wanted someone to come in and treat the public with respect and treat the people the way they would want to be treated. I didn’t want anyone here who was going to be overly aggressive.”

Moats noted they experienced 100 percent turnover with the full-time positions. Two were the decisions of the town board. The other decision rested with Moats.

There are currently four full-time positions and eight part-time positions with the Fremont Police Department.

"They do an excellent job,” Moats said. "They use their head and they are smart officers.”

The strong part-time staff even includes Wayne County sheriff’s deputies, he said.

He noted the working relationship is solid with Wayne County Sheriff Carey Winders and Fremont police head up major investigations in their own town.

Moats is making his mark by getting out of the office and talking with folks and visiting businesses regularly.

"I just be the person I was brought up to be,” Moats said. "I want to be that type of chief. I get out and talk to the people. People feel like they can approach me. I get out and I visit the businesses. I get out and sit on someone’s front porch and have a conversation with them.

Law enforcement goes far beyond investigations and tickets.

"It’s about getting out and knowing the people of the community and building the trust,” Moats said.

Property crimes and drug activity have been the main issues for Fremont. Six or seven search warrants have been issued for drug-related seizures.

Moats points to police responding to more calls and a broader range of calls than in the past. Other calls for service have increased from 26 in 2011 to 68 this past year.

"We’re really making a big difference,” Moats said. "We’re noticing community members are getting out in the morning and walking their dogs in neighborhoods they probably wouldn’t have walked in two years ago.”

Moats also has an open door policy.

"There is nobody I deny visiting at any time during the day,” Moats said. "My door is always open. I never turn down a phone call or visit from a community member.”

"Yes ma’am,” Moats says, interrupting the interview to take a phone call from a concerned resident. "If he causes you any problems don’t hesitate to call us and we will have officers over there.”

He concedes he can’t make everyone happy.

Moats lives in Wilson with his wife, Robin. He has four boys, Colton, 10, Tanner, 12, Christopher, 25, and Cameron, 22.

 

LIFETIME OFFICER

Moats was born in Kentucky and moved to Wilson when he was 10.

Moats graduated from Fike High School in Wilson in 1986, and entered the U.S. Army, where he served two years as a military police officer, then returned to Wilson. He enrolled in Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) at Wilson Community College and graduated in 1990.

While attending BLET school, Moats supported his family by working nighttime hours as a security guard at Wilson Medical Center.

"Having to keep up your school work, maintain your family life, go to school full time, going to school every morning, going to work every evening and work until midnight and then get up and go to school the next morning, Moats said, "it took a lot for me to get through that 17-week process. Once I got through with it, it was very rewarding.”

Moats credits former Wilson Police Capt. Harvey Page for helping him get his law enforcement career started. Moats worked for Page at the hospital and he worked with and encouraged him every step of the way. He said he owes a lot to Page.

Moats served two decades as a deputy with the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office.

During his career as a deputy, Moats held the position of patrol deputy and was promoted to corporal in 1995. In 2000, he was again promoted and assigned as a detective in the Narcotics Division. While serving in that capacity, he was promoted to sergeant in 2007. In 2008, he was given the responsibility of overseeing the Sheriff’s Office Problem Oriented Response Team or POST team. During the last part of his career with Wilson, he was assigned to the patrol team where he served as sergeant.

Moats recalls the high-profile cases he worked on at the sheriff’s office with the DEA, SBI and local law enforcement.

"Our biggest seizure would be 944 pounds of marijuana, anywhere from 2 to 12 kilos of cocaine. We worked on some pretty substantial cases,” Moats said. "At one time we seized about a kilo of heroin, which is really unheard of, but I learned a lot in the detectives division.”

 

COMMUNITY

Moats has worked on improving police response time.

The town has also looked at issues such as code enforcement of problematic high grass that detracts from the appearance of town.

Moats has a soft spot for local resident Barry Wooten, who appears to have little money or prospects for the future.

He gives Wooten money out of his own pocket for Wooten to clean up the town.

"I give him work to do,” Moats said. "He cleans the community up. We built a special relationship. I met him not too long after I started.”

Wooten, who lives in a trailer nearby, has been spotted asking residents for money in the past. Moats has set him on a more constructive path.

As Moats drives his police cruiser through town, he always checks on the bank employees several times a day.

"It takes a minute for them to notice me,” he said driving up in his unmarked police cruiser.

"Fremont had almost been kind of tight lipped,” Moats said. "That has changed. It’s a very good community, a lot of good people here. Most of my officers have a clear understanding of what I expect and what direction I want to go. They don’t get out here and just write a bunch of tickets.”

Moats is clear that if someone is doing wrong, they are doing wrong.

"But don’t go out there and write every person in the community a ticket if they just paused at a stop sign,” Moats said. "Stop them and warn them and be very courteous. It’s kind of a very fine line there. If you start writing everyone in the community a ticket it’s not going to give your police department a very good reputation.”

If there is a speeding issue in a certain area, it will be enforced and addressed, Moats said.

"If you give someone a break and they always remember that break and if you need information they are more apt to give you that information because you cut them a break,” Moats said. "If you gave them a ticket or if you were a little rude to them, you can expect to get nothing from them in the future. In order to do your job to the best of your ability, you have to rely on the public.”

 

THE RESPONSE

Fremont Town Administrator Kerry McDuffie notes crime in the town has decreased. McDuffie said he’s pleased with the level of professionalism in the police department.

"They are doing a good job and we appreciate the job the chief is doing and the whole department is doing,” McDuffie said.

While response has been generally positive to Moats, you are always going to have residents not appreciative of the police department.

"Drug arrests have been up,” McDuffie said. "The majority of people appreciate that. I have always noticed throughout my career as a police department does its job, complaints will go up. I will deal with it.”

 

SCHOOL INVOLVEMENT

Moats can regularly be seen opening car doors at the local elementary school for students when they’re dropped off in the morning.

He is a living example of the James Taylor song "You’ve Got a Friend,” said Sheila Wolfe, principal of Fremont STARS Elementary School.

"He is here no matter what,” Wolfe said. "We have a drop-off point. He regularly opens the door and greets students and parents in the morning. He regularly walks through the schools. He does a lot of things that are not part of his job.”

Students know Moats is watching over them, keeping them safe, Wolfe said.

"It’s a great partnership,” Wolfe said. "I can always count on him. The great thing about Chief Moats is I don’t have to call. He is proud of their good work. His presence makes all the difference to the children.”

Wolfe has been at the school five years and she’s been in education for 27.

"It’s way above and beyond what most chiefs would see as part of their jobs,” Wolfe said. "I think his commitment and dedication is amazing.”

 

jjimison@wilsontimes.com | 265-7813




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View Comments:Show/Hide(23 comments)
Don said...

Paul Moats running for Sheriff! Wow Dont let Calvin Know or Moats will end up like Jason Hunt

Tuesday, March 12, 2013 at 12:53 AM
I think said...

I think Paul Moats should run for Sheriff. Moats 2014 for Sheriff.

Sunday, March 10, 2013 at 1:28 PM
Know your facts said...

To Stats. If you want to know about the crime in Fremont why don't you stop talking about it up here and be smart about it. Use you brain and go to Fremont and talk to Chief Moats and Sgt.Bottoms. Check your facts before you make comments about my town. The Cheif has done great thing for this town. Chief Moats is the best thing to ever come to Fremont. Now if we could just get rid of the town manger and some of the board members we would be just fine.
Also Stats the department has never had a more Professional group of guys. This is by far the best the town has ever had. Just come to Fremont and find out for yourself.

Sunday, March 10, 2013 at 1:26 PM
Lottory said...

Paul IS a good person. and I am glad he was able to get away from the sheriffs office. It was holding him back. Many are being held back now.
Alot of good people are leaving.

Sunday, March 10, 2013 at 10:07 AM
Bonk said...

To Stats: maybe you want to bump yourself back to a reading comprehension course.... The article says that they had responded to more calls and a broader range of calls than before soooo that means an increase in miscellaneous. Perhaps you should slow down and read instead of rushing to judgment. It will save you from looking foolish.

Saturday, March 09, 2013 at 6:14 PM
Also said...

The misc group also includes DWI cases, reports for assisting other agencies and certain traffic offenses where a report was done for court purposes. That's it why those numbers are higher. You would actually have to be a resident to realize the reduction yourself. So in this case people didn't lie.

Saturday, March 09, 2013 at 4:50 PM To stats said...

The misc column has doubled because the dept. is now taking reports for domestic arguments and minor offenses. Which were not being done prior to chief moats taking office. Let say for example officers respond to domestic arguments at a residence and next week they have a homicide occur at that same residence. Then they can see the history from the reports that were done and possibly establish leads on the homicide. It's a smart way to stay ahead of the game and be prepared. So no liars involved in these numbers. But feel free to stop by and evaluate them yourself or get an explanation of them. If they wanted to lie then wouldn't they make those numbers lower? It seems to me to be honest since several columns showed increases an decreases. Just another negative attitude for something positive.

Saturday, March 09, 2013 at 4:29 PM Stats said...

Lookimg @ the statistics, I'm curious as to whether the crimes have just been reclassified to miscellaneous. From the surface it seems violent crime & etc is down, yet misc. offense nearly doubled! As my old stats teacher said, "numbers don't lie, people do"

Saturday, March 09, 2013 at 7:42 AM KNOW THE FACTS said...

TO Missed the point
I think one you do not know the facts. I think you have misread the Wilson Times article as well, the Times stated “Moats noted they experienced 100 percent turnover with the full-time positions. TWO were the decisions of the town board. The other decision rested with Moats. There are currently FOUR full-time positions and eight part-time positions with the Fremont Police Department. “
Missed the Point, you have missed the fact that the Fremont Town Board removed two of the full time officers. Chief Moats only made a decision on one officer. Miss the Point = MTP. MTP, I am not sure you know what it is like in a small town. I also do not think you know what it is like to live in Wayne Co. Your Sheriff Calvin Woodard of Wilson Co. did place his political hand. MTP just know that Police Departments work differently than Sheriff Offices. We will keep Chief Moats who is a great chief and you my friend can keep Sheriff Calvin Woodard and his many problems.


Saturday, March 09, 2013 at 11:12 PM police officer said...

To missed the point. A Police Dept. and Sheriff are very different when it comes to hiring and firing officers. A Police Chief has to have grounds to fire an employee. He can't choose who supports him. From reading the article it says the board chose to let two of the Officers go and the third rested on his shoulders. Which probably meant there were disciplinary actions involved. It also states in the article that the first six month was spent evaluating the officers and their talent. Which meant he took the time to address issues and see what he was working with. Which is respectable. Police officers can file suit against a municipality for wrongful termination if there are no grounds for the termination. With a sheriff's Office the Sheriff can hire and fire at will. He can walk in one day and be in a bad mood and tell the deputy he is no longer needed. No questions asked and no threat of a law suit. I commend Chief Moats for what he has done. It's not an easy job to do. I've heard nothing but good comments about him from people around Fremont. Keep up the good work Chief Moats

Saturday, March 09, 2013 at 11:02 PM MsSassy said...

“I’ve taken myself to a whole different level in law enforcement,” Moats said from his office in Fremont. “I think this was the path God chose for me." So what was wrong with me saying I'm glad he mention God? Not every day you hear people giving God credit for anything. It wasn't meant in a negative way! :) @Congrats - I can walk the walk very well thank you.

Saturday, March 09, 2013 at 10:26 PM Missed the point said...

To those who are blogging about how Calvin let Moats & others go. What is the irony in the fact that Moats let go of 50% of the previous administration & by his own admission, the department had a100% turnover. Folks, it's apart of ANY political system that the NEW person has a right to choose those who will serve the new administration. THAT'S LIFE!

Saturday, March 09, 2013 at 9:10 PM Congrats said...

MsSassy... Some people walk the walk instead of just talking the talk.

Friday, March 08, 2013 at 6:27 PM Go Chief Moats. said...

Thank you Chief Moats for all that you do. Thank you for the great group of officers you have brought to Fremont. All of your officer work hard to serve the Town of Fremont. Special thanks to Sgt.Bottoms, Officer Loving and Officer Siemion. Those guys have really help the town out a lot. May God bless all of you at the Fremont Police Department.

Friday, March 08, 2013 at 5:11 PM Do u know what you are talking about said...

MsSassy why would you even make a comment. Why would you make about Chief Moats and God ! Do you know Chief Moats? Just because he is not talking about God does not mean he does not believe in God. What I dislike is when Politicians use God just to get into office. MsSassy I think you need to know your facts.

Friday, March 08, 2013 at 5:05 PM Col. Flagg said...

A proven dedicated law enforcement professional. Paul has always gone above and beyond for those he serves. Fremont should be proud of their police professionals who are serving them!!!!

Friday, March 08, 2013 at 4:44 PM MsSassy said...

Glad Paul found a job. Sometimes it's not all politics but other issues. The Wilson Times I doubt would write an article ridiculing anyone in LE. You know Calvin as Wayne has/had inside informants that will/would tell truth/lies to save their own job. It happens in jobs all the time. Again - congrats to Paul. Glad he mention God! Shows a change. :)

Friday, March 08, 2013 at 3:43 PM Good for him said...

I'm sure the move was good for Sheriff Woodard too. The sheriff got rid of those he believed were too loyal to Gay to keep. That's is political but the way it is. Glad Fremont got a sheriff. For forty years I've heard of the illegal liquor (moonshine still) operations and the crime rates in the community was sky high. A man that has served as a deputy for 19 years needs to move on to bigger things instead of ending up standing around the courtroom and getting fat.

Friday, March 08, 2013 at 2:13 PM Proud said...

You're right, "Wow"...it's definitely not about the pay! Paul IS that good but unfortunately, it isn't always that simple when politics are involved. Paul genuinely cares about the citizens of Fremont AND about his officers. Law enforcement tends to receive negative attention, but it's not strictly about arrests...they are proactive and give back to the community as well. Kudos to Wilson Daily Times for the great article and for giving Chief Moats the credit that he deserves!!

Friday, March 08, 2013 at 1:38 PM BONK said...

I'm thinking this article may leave CW shaking his head. Maybe he SHOULD have kept some of these valuable officers when he started... perhaps then he could have avoided "JAILGATE" starring Willie Lucas

Friday, March 08, 2013 at 12:17 PM congrats said...

to wow: have you ever heard of "politics"? 19 people with years of experience were relieved of their duties when the new Sheriff took office. Their dismissal had nothing to do with merit or ability.
to Chief Moats: Congratulations on a great job. Wilson's loss is most definitely Fremont's gain. You were always an excellent law enforcement officer in Wilson, willing to help anyone in need, it is nice to see you continuing your tradition of service in Fremont. Great Job!

Friday, March 08, 2013 at 12:13 PM wow said...

If he was that good, why in the world did the Sheriff office let him go? Who wouldn't want a proven 20 year veteran that dedicated risking his life for us all those years? Anyway, good for him. Maybe it was the Sheriff's office (old and new) holding him back anyway. He certainly didn't stay with the Sheriff's office for the pay! Its a travesty what they are paid for such a risky job. GREAT JOB in Fremont!

Friday, March 08, 2013 at 9:21 AM Wilson said...

Our loss is their gain. Congrads sir!! Calvin let a lot of great people go over politics. How is the jail running for you now CW???

Friday, March 08, 2013 at 7:07 AM
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