Wednesday, February 25, 2015

WC Behind the Badge: Chief Chris Evitts

J-E Editor
Everyday the people of Webster County are served by the members of our various local law enforcement agencies. From the city police departments to the Sheriff’s office and Fish and Wildlife officers, these men put their lives on the line every day so that we can be safe.
During 2015 the J-E will look to honor each of these officers by telling their story in the pages of our newspaper. Please, join us in thanking these officers for what they do.
Clay police chief Chris Evitts is used to small town life. He grew up in the city of Dawson Springs, and his parents operated a grocery store in small town of Charleston for years. Being a police officer was the last thing on his mind.

Instead, Evitts grew up to become a welder.
“Welding and fabricating was good money,” he said. “But back in the early nineties the mines slowed down.”
As the demand for welding and fabricating in the coal industry slowed down, Evitts found himself looking for work. For a while he found a place in the commercial glass door business, but that wasn’t where he wanted to be.
Eventually Evitts heard about an opening with the Providence Police Department and decided to give it a try. In 2004 he went to work in Providence. At that time Ronnie Braden was the chief of police and Jerry Fritz was the mayor.
“I was there about a year when they had an opening for a patrolman in Clay,” Evitts said.  “In June it will be ten years since I came to Clay.”
Six months after he went to work for Clay Police Chief Cindy Cato, she resigned. After interviewing replacements, the city council eventually offered the job to Evitts in 2006.
“Clay’s been good to me,” Evitts said. “You know everybody here. That’s why I’ve stayed. Sometimes stuff comes up and you have to arrest people, but sometimes it’s enough just to talk to them.”
Evitts is the only officer in Clay, so the department relies on both the Webster County Sheriff’s Department and the Kentucky State Police to offer assistance, but he says many times the citizens will wait for him to come in.
“There have been times, when I was off for a few days, that I would come in and somebody would come to me with something,” he said. “I always ask them why they didn’t call the sheriff, but they say they just wanted to talk to me.”
According to Evitts, the hardest part of his job has been growth in the use of methamphetamine.
“It’s the same problem every police department in the country has got,” he said. “Everyday you come to work and meth is an issue an issue.”
For a small town, Clay has had more than it’s fair share of meth related problems, stemming from the large farming industry in the area. One of the key ingrediants to the manufactured drug is anhydrous ammonia, a gas used by farmers to fertilize their crops.
“At one point in time I think we had over a million gallons of anhydrous ammonia in Clay,” he said. “Those facilities have stepped up their security. Having cameras has helped as much as anything. But its still a concern.”
Evitts added that when he came to Clay in 2005, it wasn’t illegal for a person to be in possession of anhydrous without a permit.
“Clay is a very close knit community,” he added. “We’ve got a great school and great kids. There is so much involvement from the community with everything that goes on here.”
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