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Collierville police chief to retire after 48 years walking the blue line

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Collierville Police Chief Larry Goodwin will be retiring this summer after serving in law enforcement for Memphis and Collierville for almost half a century.
“It’s been a good ride,” said Goodwin. “I’ve been a policeman 48 years, and now I’m going to take it easy for a little bit.”

His dedication and expertise will be missed. However, Goodwin has earned the time to ‘take it easy.’

A 1965 graduate of Kingsbury High School, he started studying at Memphis State University, before enlisting in the United States Marine Corps that November.

“I joined the Marine Corps during the largest troop build-up in Vietnam’s history, because it just seemed like the right thing to do,” he noted.

After a few short months in boot camp, Goodwin went active in February of 1966 and served one tour in Vietnam as a Combat Rifleman with the 3rd Marine Division.

When he was released from the Marine Corps in 1969, he came back home to look for a job. One of his fellow Marines suggested that he join the police department.

“I said no because I was tired of getting shot at,” he said. “But I joined anyway, and the rest is history.”

In 1970, Goodwin become a patrolman with the Memphis Police Department assigned to south Memphis. After eight years on patrol, he proceeded to climb the ranks through the years, serving as commander of the Organized Crime Vice and Narcotics Division, commander of the West Precinct Uniform Patrol Division and the director of the Memphis Police Training Academy.

He rose to the appointed rank of chief inspector where he made a large impact in managing the Memphis Police Department Organized Crime Unit.

“When we worked together back in the seventies, neither one of us had much money. Larry was always a good mechanic, and he would fix my car for me,” said Mike Quinn, retired Memphis Police Department and Sheriff’s Department. “He was just a good guy, and no matter what rank he held or where he worked, he treated everyone as equals and showed complete professionalism.”

One of his most notable cases working with organized crime was a counterfeiting operation where the criminal was passing counterfeit $20 bills in the Mid-South area.

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“I got up one morning, went into organized crime in Memphis, and ended up down in Oxford, Miss. where we found close to $1 million in counterfeit 20’s. We caught the perpetrator in the Holly Springs airport, arrested another person involved in West Memphis, and then found the printer in Clinton, Ark. All in one day. It was a trip,” said Goodwin.

“Larry was my partner for a number of years,” said Ronnie Bierbrodt, who is retired from the Memphis Police Department. “We had some good times together and locked up a lot of criminals. It seemed like every time we had a foot-chase, I would come back looking like I was caught in a briar patch, and Larry would just dust the dirt off him and look like he had just come out of a showroom. He was a true professional, good partner and great friend.”

In 1996, Goodwin joined the Collierville Police Department as a captain after serving 26 years with the Memphis Police Department. In Collierville, he oversaw the Staff Services Division.

He was one of three captains serving a population of 25,000 residents. There were 32 sworn officers patrolling 19 square miles (or 12,160 acres) in their jurisdiction.

Today, there are an estimated 50,424 people living in Collierville with 72 sworn officers covering 36 square miles (23,040 acres) while on patrol.

Goodwin caught the attention of his fellow officers even before he became Collierville Police Chief.

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Due to his extensive experience and knowledge of police work he was viewed with respect as a leader who has done it all. As a combat veteran of the Vietnam War, a patrolman, commander of the Organized Crime Vice Division and commander of the West Precinct Uniform Patrol Division with the Memphis Police Department he knows full well what it means to send an officer into harm’s way.

“His broad scope of experiences may be responsible for his calm demeanor in stressful situations. I’ve always admired him for that. Under his leadership, the Collierville Police Department has grown into a very large and complex organization which demands a wide range of leadership and management skills.

The department hasn’t just grown, it has grown into one of the most capable and most respected departments in the state. He is leaving behind some very large shoes to fill,” said James Lewellen, town administrator.

Goodwin was appointed Chief of Police by the Mayor and Board of Aldermen in 1999.

During 19 years as the chief, his accomplishments are extensive, including: building a new courthouse, patrol building, and communications center. He is also responsible for expanding the School Resource Officer Unit, which was started in 1998, with one officer assigned to Collierville Middle School.

The following year, a second officer was added to rotate between three elementary schools campuses.

Collierville was the first municipality in Tennessee to offer an SRO program at the elementary level.

“I didn’t see it as foresight, but as a necessity… wanting to provide safety and security in our schools,” said Goodwin.

By 2013, a full-time officer was assigned to every Collierville school, and Goodwin shares that in the future, the department wants to always have an officer in each school. With security as an important aspect of the SRO unit, the officers also play a vital role in child development by building a positive association with law enforcement.

“Larry was always proactive instead of reactive,” said Jerry Lawson, who is retired from the Collierville Police and Memphis Police departments. “He set a good example and was always fair, friendly, and just a really great person.”

He is a graduate of Leadership Collierville and the 167th Session of the FBI National Academy. He is the Chairman of the 100 Club of the Memphis Valor Award Board and serves on the Board of Advisors for the Criminal Justice Program at Southwest Tennessee Community college.

In 2000, Goodwin started the annual Collierville Police Department Classic Car and Bike Show, which has raised over $100,000 through the years for the Collierville Education Foundation. He has since taken a backseat with the car show, letting other members of the Police Department take the lead – which has been his philosophy with the Department’s structure as a whole.

“If one guy moves on, someone else can step in,” Goowind said. “I’m leaving the department in good hands, with the support of a Mayor and Board that make sure we have the resources we need.”

Mayor Stan Joyner stated, “I have a great deal of respect for the work Larry has initiated to continually shape and mold the Collierville Police Department to be equipped to address the challenges of an ever changing society. Through Larry’s vision and leadership, the CPD was on the leading edge of expanding the School Resource Officer program to place an officer in every school and as a community we have benefited from Larry’s philosophy of community oriented Policing. Collierville is a very safe community and I am appreciative of Larry’s commitment to making and keeping Collierville one of the safest communities in Tennessee. We will miss him, and I wish Larry the very best in his well deserved retirement.”

In retirement, Goodwin said he plans on getting caught up with some projects around the house such as working in the yard and painting. He is also looking forward to spending more time with his family.

He and his wife, Cathy, will be married 44 years this year, and they have three granddaughters. Cathy sells books on Amazon to raise money for a couple of local, charitable causes, and Larry is eager to devote more time to the book sale fundraising. They annually donate $1,000 of their sales to the Regional One Newborn Center and another $1,000 to Page Robbins Adult Day Center. Larry and Cathy have donated just shy of $8,000 total to Page Robbins.

“Larry and his wife Cathy are kind and generous people,” commented Herbie Krisle, Page Robbins executive director. “I am glad to call him my friend and they have certainly made a difference and a positive impact on Page Robbins.”

In his 48 years of law enforcement, Goodwin said the most significant changes he’s witnessed were the technological advancements in police work. He said the better equipment and radios made the job easier, such as tracking criminal activity and behaviors, and made the officers safer while on duty. Yet with all the new technology, he shares that the most important processes of police work remain: “prevention, deterrence, and apprehension.”

Collierville’s strict traffic enforcement reputation is not always popular among motorists, but Goodwin knows the majority of arrests are a result of traffic stops.

“These guys actually want to help people and want to do the right thing, even in the face of criticism,” he said. “This is probably one of the most progressive, honest, and caring police departments that I’ve ever been associated with.”

The Town of Collierville is hosting a reception in June at the Morton Museum of Collierville History to congratulate Chief Larry Goodwin on his retirement and to pay tribute to his service to the community. Goodwin will retire as the Collierville Chief of Police on July 1.

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