Carmi Police Chief Randy Hamblin to Retire After 29 Years

Jun 5th, 2014

Carmi Police Chief Randy Hamblin will retire Friday with nearly three decades of law enforcement experience. 

The Crossville native was hired as a patrolman in 1985.  He was later promoted to sergeant (1993) and deputy chief (2007) before becoming Chief of Police in 2009. 

As a young man, Hamblin always had a lot of respect for police officers.  But he never considered law enforcement as a career until he met Keith Brooks. 

“He was on the police department at the time and very friendly.  We started chatting and he was very open about his career in law enforcement.”

“I actually became a little interested.  Keith had me ride around with him on patrol.  He basically talked me into pursuing the career path.” 

At the time, Hamblin was employed as the Assistant Manager at Pizza Hut in Carmi.  His wife, Janet, managed the Huck’s Convenience Store.  Recently married (1983) with a child, Hamblin was looking for a higher paying career.       

In 1985, the Carmi Police Department had an opening for two officers.  Hamblin was hired and sent to Champaign for training at the police academy. 

“I went from May-early August 1985.  That worked out well because our son was born in September.” 

The family moved from Crossville to Carmi when Hamblin started work as a patrolman.  Hamblin says the field of law enforcement has changed dramatically in three decades. 

“When I came to work, we had handwritten reports.  If you wanted to call someone, you had to find a landline.  Cell phones did not exist.  The Internet did not exist.  Now the availability of instant information has changed the way police officers can do their job.”

Today, the department investigates fewer “traditional” burglaries and more “white collar crimes” like debit card and electronic fund thefts.  As technology changes and evolves, officers must keep up their skill level. 

Hamblin has witnessed countless negative incidents over the years.  “Those things tend to stick out in your mind.”  But he says the job has been rewarding too.  He enjoyed teaching the DARE program in the local school system.

“The relationship you form as an authority figure with young kids is very rewarding.  I think it’s a good program to this day.  Getting in the school system and showing young people the side of a police officer that’s more human…approachable…and understanding is a good thing.”

The Carmi Police Department administered the DARE program from 1992-2000. 

“We discontinued our active participation in the DARE program, quite frankly, because of the meth issues we had in town.”

Hamblin says the department needed additional manpower to combat the meth problem.  While meth remains an issue, arrests/seizures pale in comparison to the early 2000s. 

“We had meth labs every week.  Sometimes weeks would go by when you had them every day.  It was very dramatic at that time.”

Hamblin says domestic disputes (e.g. alcohol-induced arguing) and thefts will always be an issue.  The department has been working to combat the rise of prescription and synthetic drug abuse. 

He believes the public should be confident in their police force. 

“I am extremely proud of the police department we have here in Carmi.  Every person we have on this department is professional and capable.  I would stack us up against anybody, anywhere.  I think we stand ready, willing, and able to perform any law enforcement function that is required of us in the City of Carmi.”

When Mike Thomas retired as police chief, Hamblin says he was given a good department.  He hopes to pass a similar strong force to incoming chief Jason Carter.

“When Jason was chosen, I think they made an excellent choice.  When you have a good department, you have multiple choices for advancement.  We have some good people in many different roles that could come up.” 

“Jason is going to be a great chief.  I’ve worked with him intensely over the last eight months.  He is going to do a wonderful job.  He is young.  He is going to bring a little youthful exuberance to the table.”

Hamblin used a “passing of the torch” analogy to symbolize the transition.  He believes Carter can take the department to the next level.

“A couple of the goals that I had for the police department are very difficult to achieve.  For example, I would have liked to see us increase our manpower permanently to 10 officers.”

The current staffing level is nine officers, which Hamblin says is lower than surrounding communities of similar size.  The Carmi Police Department maintains a strong working relationship with the White County Sheriff’s Department. 

The two forces share a database and dispatch center.  The relationship has enabled the Carmi Police Department to effective meet the needs of citizens with nine officers. 

Hamblin identified “take-home cars” as another goal for the future.  He was pleased that the department managed to replace officers in his five year term as chief. 

“Hopefully we’ll be able to attract long term commitments in the future from people.  We would like to find officers who are willing to settle down, establish roots in Carmi and become part of the team for the long haul.” 

Hamblin pointed out superficial changes such as the black and white striping of police vehicles and uniform alterations.

“We went with patrol rifles for every officer and the training that comes with that.  Working with the sheriff’s department, we have trained all of our officers to a higher degree when it comes to active shooting scenarios.  I hope that never becomes an issue here.  But it’s important to prepare.”

Hamblin identified several reasons for his retirement at this juncture in his career.  For one, it followed the natural course of events.  He was eligible for retirement and felt it was time to turn the department over to a younger successor.  Hamblin also looks forward to spending more time at home with his wife. 

“I do have a couple of part-time job options…somewhat law enforcement related that will allow me to keep up my certification and accreditation.  But really I’m just trying to take care of some things that I’ve let go over the years at home.  And be open to whatever is out there.”

Hamblin appreciates the support he’s received from fellow officers and the citizens of Carmi.  He especially thanked Keith Brooks, Mike Thomas, and John Ziegler for their guidance over the years.

Randy and Janet Hamblin have been married for 31 years.  Their children include: Betheny, Andrew, and Matthew. 

A reception will be held for Chief Hamblin from 12pm-3pm Friday at the City Council Chambers.  The public is invited to stop by and wish Hamblin a happy retirement.  Cake and coffee will be available.