WILLIAMSON - Under normal circumstances when a person assumes a leadership role in a different job setting, it takes a minimum of 4-6 weeks for them to become familiar with the “ins and outs” of the position before becoming comfortable with their new responsibilities. These beliefs do not apply, however, to the new Police Chief for the City of Williamson, who has jumped into the chief’s slot and hit the ground running.
Barry Blair is a fourth-generation law enforcement officer with 19 years in that field under his belt. Blair served as a policeman with the Towns of Matewan and Kermit, as well as with the Mingo County Sheriff’s Department before taking a position with the State of W.Va. where he worked as a Transportation Enforcement Officer for the last 13 years. When Blair heard the news that the former police chief of Williamson was retiring from the department, he felt the time was right for him to apply to make a career change. After interviewing for the position, Blair was the top choice of Mayor Darrin McCormick and the city council members.
“I knew in my heart I could make a difference in Williamson,” said the new chief. “The residents here deserve the best law enforcement agency possible, and that’s exactly what I intend to provide for them.”
“I care deeply about the people who live in this city and I have great concerns about their safety and well-being,” said Blair. “Crimes are occurring more frequently than ever, and if we don’t stay on top of it and stay one step ahead of those breaking the law, then we’ve lost the fight.”
“I do not intend to ever lose this fight - that will not happen on my watch.”
Blair is a lifelong native of Mingo County, raised in the Lenore area. He and his wife Elaine, along with their two children Dylan and Daisha, still make their home in that tightly knit community. The chief is a strong believer that you get back from your town exactly what you put into it, and this thought has always been his motivation to serve the public to the best of his ability.
Blair filled the chief’s vacancy beginning on August 1 and has spent many hours pouring over paperwork, getting to know his officers, and making his presence known within city limits by making the acquaintance of the individuals who live and work here. His past experience serving as an officer has provided him a strong foundation on which to build the walls of his new career.
The chief commented about how blessed he considered himself to be able to walk into a new department that has highly qualified officers in place, and says that is not usually the way things typically go.
“They are not only respected and trained officers, they are good men. This fact makes my job a lot easier than it would have been if the situation were reversed. I think we are establishing a good, working relationship between us and that’s the way I want it to stay.”
One of the topics that Blair discussed with the Williamson Daily News was that he’s very excited to disclose information concerning two W. Va. Governor’s Highway Safety grants that his department has received.
“The first of the two grants will cover increased patrols for speed, traffic and school bus safety and being a parent myself, I can tell you that nothing is more important to me than the well-being of our school kids,” remarked Blair. “We will increase patrols on Rt. 52 and on U.S. 119 as well as in the direct locations of the Williamson K-8 School and the Williamson Christian School, especially in the mornings and late afternoons when school begins and ends.”
“School zones are a speed-controlled site, and the laws regarding these limits will be strictly enforced and violators will be cited and fined.”
The second state grant the department received was created to assist officers in holding DUI/Sobriety checkpoints more frequently than before, with the first one scheduled to take place tomorrow evening, August 9, beginning around 9 p.m. The exact location has not been decided as of yet, but it will of course, be held within city limits.
“Driving while under the influence of drugs and alcohol is a serious offense and if caught committing this crime, you will go to jail,” said Blair.
Blair invites the public to take a moment to introduce yourself when you see him out and about on the streets of Williamson, saying that he always wants to maintain a solid line of communication with the public.
“I want them to know that this police department is here for them, day or night. If they have a need or a concern, we’ll be there to assist.”
If you need to contact Chief Blair, you may reach him by calling the Williamson City Police station at 304-235-2570.