Carter County Sheriff Ken Grace was named Ardmore's new police chief Wednesday.
City manager J.D. Spohn made the announcement during a press conference, saying, "The city of Ardmore is pleased to announce the appointment of Ken Grace as the next police chief for the city of Ardmore. The appointment will be confirmed by the city commission on Oct. 7. Ken's first day on the job will be Jan. 2."
Spohn announced Grace was his choice for the post, pointing to the veteran officer's "40 years experience in law enforcement," including Warr Acres Police Department, Bethany Police Department and Oklahoma County Sheriff's Department "where he served as chief deputy over 500 employees," as well as Dickson Police Department Chief, Carter County Sheriff and a member of the Oklahoma Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training Board.
"We could have used a search firm ... a search committee .... but the city manager makes the appointment," Spohn said, adding he based his decision on "my knowledge of his abilities and his knowledge and experience. Ken has successfully managed the Carter County Sheriff's Department for over six years, and under his leadership, they have become one of the finest sheriff's departments in the state. I know he will provide that same leadership and stability for the Ardmore Police Department."
Referring to his four decades in law enforcement, Grace said being selected as APD's chief was a highlight of his career.
"I'm very honored to have been selected," he said, adding he appreciated the help and support of the city, and pledged his best effort as chief.
In an interview with The Ardmoreite following the formal announcement, Grace talked about stepping into the APD's top job that has seen six chiefs and multiple interim chiefs come and go in the past 16 years, and his plans to overcome past obstacles.
"There is no doubt there have been stumbles in the past. There have also been some successes. My goal is to build on the successes and use my experience to move the APD forward to accomplish even greater successes," Grace said. "I am in a unique position. I have been in a position to observe and work with this department for a number of years. I know the officers — their dedication and professionalism — as well as their desire to provide the best service possible. And, the officers know me. I believe this gives both the officers and myself perspective that can be used as a tool to promote teamwork."
While Grace will be attending police department staff meetings and briefings in the months leading up to taking the helm of the APD, Spohn said "he will not be making any official decisions relating to the department until his first official day on the job."
In the meantime, Grace will continue to carry out his duties as Carter County Sheriff, resigning the post effective Dec. 31.
Carter County Commissioners will appoint a replacement to step into the vacated role as the lead law enforcement official in the county until a special election can be called and voters can elect someone to fulfill Grace's unexpired term.