When Maj. Mike Staples was an officer seeking his first promotion with the Owensboro Police Department, the decision to apply was not an easy one.
It wasn’t because Staples was afraid of a challenge.
On the contrary, Staples said the choice was difficult because he loved everything he had been able to do at the department up to that point, such as working on patrol and being a police detective.
“For me, it was really hard to think about moving on,” Staples said in an interview earlier this week.
When Staples was promoted to sergeant, he said he knew he would also seek other leadership roles in the department.
“I love leadership,” Staples said. “I like the process and learning how to lead and problem solve better.”
Staples was recently promoted to Major by the Owensboro City Commission, placing him on the department’s staff along with Chief Art Ealum and Deputy Chief JD Winkler.
Staples, who previously served as Criminal Investigations Division Supervisor, Patrol Supervisor and Professional Standards Officer for the department, will lead OPD’s Support Services Division.
Support Services is responsible for training officers, managing the evidence collection unit and records office, and overseeing the reaccreditation of the Kentucky Association of Chiefs of Police. Being accredited means that a department has demonstrated that it meets the best practices in law enforcement.
Staples said he was a “military kid,” implying the family moved around while his father was in the Marines. The family eventually settled in Ohio County, where they had ties. Staples joined the Army, where he served in both the infantry and the airborne unit.
After military service, law enforcement seemed like a natural career choice.
Staples spoke with a friend who was a police officer in Clarksville, which helped him decide.
“It was a perfect fit with my desire to serve a community,” he said.
Staples joined OPD in 2002 and worked on patrol for several years before becoming an investigator.
“I loved patrolling. The patrol was awesome,” he said. “Working with these (officers) and overseeing them is something I will miss.”
When Staples was promoted to lieutenant, he became supervisor of criminal investigations. The unit was busy as detectives worked together on several high-profile cases, he said.
The time spent leading the detective division was something Staples says he will consider “the best times of my life.”
“I enjoyed my time leading a patrol, but there was an ability at CID to form a team relationship,” he said.
Law enforcement agencies across the state and nation are facing agent shortages as demand drops and agencies compete with the private sector to keep agents.
“Certainly staffing is our biggest challenge,” Staples said. “It’s hard to focus on other (problems) when staffing is an issue.
“(Officers) are getting tired, but we still have to have people on the street,” Staples said. The department has new officers coming out of field training who will be ready to join the force on their own, Staples said.
The morale of the officers in the department is good.
“That sounds pretty optimistic,” Staples said. “I think morale is pretty good, and that says a lot about leadership. It takes a lot to create a team and family atmosphere, where people like to come to work.
Staples said the focus will be on transforming the OPD into a place where officers turn down private sector jobs.
When asked what gets him to work every day, Staples said “people.”
“I love that atmosphere and I want to do what I can to create that atmosphere,” Staples said. “That’s why most people keep doing what they’re doing. Owensboro is a special place.