Lexington's new police chief wants to build trust with community policing

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - In a decade of rising mistrust between minorities and police officers in many American cities, Lexington's new police chief hopes the city's officers will be known for the opposite.

"I want the officers to be known for being fair, being equitable and having integrity," said Lawrence Weathers who will become the city's top cop on March 5.

Weathers, 54, started with the Lexington Police Department in 1989. He worked in numerous divisions of the force, including patrol, narcotics, internal affairs, training, special operations and in community services as a DARE officer.

He retired from the department in 2016 and most recently was director of law enforcement for Fayette County Public Schools.

Weathers wants to continue community policing saying it's nothing new for Lexington but maybe more important these days.

"You hear all that stuff about the thin blue line, and we're there to protect," Weathers told WKYT's Miranda Combs. " But what you've got to emphasize is that thin blue line is not a wall. You can't build walls. We have to be able to be approachable."

Weathers says wasn't totally surprised when Mayor Jim Gray asked him to replace Mark Barnard who retired in January.

"It's not like I fell off the face of the earth," Weathers joked. "We were at a community event when I talked to the mayor and he asked me if I might be interested."

While Weathers might not have been surprised by the decision, his mother was.

"I was shocked," Betty Givens said about one of her ten children becoming police chief in Kentucky's second largest city.

"He said, 'Yeah, I'm going back and I'm going to be chief.' I said, 'No, I told you I didn't want you to do that anymore,'" Givens said with motherly concern for her own son's safety.

While watching her son grow up, Givens thought her son's passion for drawing and making comic books would have lead him down a different career path.

"I always say that the boys love me more than the girls, and they do," Givens said.

The crowd of kids at home growing up and a strong mother may have been what helped mold Weathers into a man the mayor sees fit for chief.

"My biggest worry is that we would lose sight of what the big picture is," Weathers said. "It's the whole community."

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