Altus Deputy Police Chief Michael Bell looks ahead to his new position as appointed Coweta Chief of Police, and reflects on his time in law enforcement while serving the great city of Altus.
In comparison to Altus, with its Police Department of thirty-one officers and seven detectives for a city of 19,500 people, Bell will accepted a position in Coweta, southeast of Tulsa, to oversee a police force of just 14 officers in a city of about 10,000 people.
Although criminal activity may be less busy, Bell’s responsibilities will “tremendously increased,” Bell said in an interview. If Bell fails to perform his duties, as an appointed official his fate rests in the hands of the Coweta City Manager rather than waiting for a citywide vote.
“The pressure is on,” Bell said. “However, working with Altus Police Chief Tim Murphy has allowed me to learn a tremendous amount of information and prepare me to handle any challenges, which I am looking forward to.”
With nearly 30 years of law enforcement experience, Bell was selected from 30 applicants for his new job. After graduating high school, Bell immediately joined the United States Air Force where he worked in Security Forces at Wurtsmith AFB, Michigan, before stationing at Altus Air Force Base. While in Altus, Bell joined the Altus Police Department Reserve program and donated over 3500 hours between 1996 and 1998, and retired from the USAF in 2001.
After retirement, Bell went home to Michigan where he said he found work driving a truck, until he moved back to Altus to join the Altus Police Department in September 2004, under the invitation of then Police Chief Mike Patterson. Within three years Bell was promoted to Sergeant and continued to climb the ranks until being appointed Deputy Police Chief in 2013.
“I get to meet different people everyday and help them get answers to problems they might have,” Bell said of the rewarding aspects of his career. “I can provide them with some service and hopefully help them out of a tough situation.”
Bell has been involved in several community relations and planning programs as well as educating Altus, Olustee, and Duke 6th graders about the prevention and dangers of drug use through the D.A.R.E. program over the last three years.
“One of the most rewarding times in my career was when Chief Murphy asked me to do the D.A.R.E program,” Bell said. “The kids are a blast. I’m going to miss them the most to be honest.” Bell said that the program not only works, but it has made it easier for kids to approach him while out in the community because they know who he is.
“The citizens of Altus have done so many great things for me,” Bell said, recalling the generosity he and his family saw first hand while he was busy beating cancer in 2010 and 2011. There was a great community outreach then where the Fire Department worked the streets asking drivers to “fill the hat,” neighbors and citizens dropped by his home to leave money and checks, and Brewers Discount Auto Supply did a few hundred dollars of car repair on the family car for free.
“I want to thank the citizens of Altus, City Council, the Mayor,the City Manager, and of course Chief Murphy, who have allowed me to serve as Deputy Chief, for all that they have done for me, and all they have taught me.”
Altus Chief of Police Tim Murphy added a few departing comments as Bell approaches his last few days with the APD.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Deputy Police Chief, Mike Bell, for his dedicated efforts and hard work he has provided to the Altus community,” Chief Murphy said.
“Mike Bell has done an outstanding job as the Deputy Chief, always devoting more time than what was expected. He also represented the Altus Police Department and dedicated himself as the D.A.R.E. instructor working with the Altus Public Schools. I’m certain he’s made a impact with those students he taught in the D.A.R.E. program.
“We are happy that Mike Bell is excited about the new position he has accepted but also sad that he is leaving the Altus Police Department and the Altus community. I have no doubt that Mike will provide the same quality service to the City of Coweta that he has provided to the City of Altus. Good luck Mike in the next chapter of your career.”
Bell’s last day on the job will be Thursday, July 24, as he expects to begin as the Coweta Chief of Police on August 4. He will be moving with his wife Sandra, who is graduating with a Business Administration degree, and their daughter Christa, who will attend Coweta Junior High.