I was glad to sit down and interview Southlake’s new Police Chief, Stephen Mylett, for the Southlake Pulse. I was able to gain insight into his police background, how he came to Southlake, and what attracted him to our city.
How did you end up in Southlake?
The opportunity really came out of nowhere. I had been the Assistant Chief of Police in Corpus Christi for about a year. My police chief in Corpus Christi, Troy Riggs, had been mentoring me for a Chief of Police position. Chief Riggs became aware of this opportunity in Southlake, and we talked about it. I talked it over with my wife, because if she wasn’t on board, it wasn’t going to happen.
When my wife and I made a trip to Southlake to check out the area, she was a little apprehensive. We took a wrong turn because I didn’t know the area that well yet. We ended up at Dragon Stadium; that was hook number one for my wife. Next, we went to Central Market and that was hook number two for her. Then we went to Town Square and it was a done deal!
What attracted you to Southlake?
Professionalism. Truly, the professional workforce that exists throughout the city, and certainly with the police department, is what drew me here. It’s reflected in the manner in which the officers interact with the community. As I talked with the people of Southlake during the hiring process, I asked citizens their views of the police department, and without fail, every comment I heard was positive.
What is your police background?
It really started when I was a small child. I’m the youngest of seven sons and my father was a police officer with the city of New York for more than 20 years. My uncles were police officers with the city of New York for 30 years. So from a very early age, that exposure to police work and what the badge stands for were very much engrained in me. As I grew up, I knew I wanted to follow in my family’s tradition.
I went to Averett College (which is now Averett University) in Danville, Virginia, for about a year and a half. I realized that I wasn’t ready to be a student, so I entered the United States Air Force as a security police officer and started building my police career there. I had the opportunity to travel and gain a lot of experience in the Air Force.
However, my desire was to be a civilian municipal police officer. So I went back to New York with the intention of getting in the New York police department, but there was a hiring freeze at that time.
One of my brothers had come down to Corpus Christi in the early ‘80s as a police sergeant and told me the department was hiring. I went down there, took the test, was hired, and spent almost 23 years on their police force.
I spent the majority of my time there on patrol and worked my way up through the ranks from Officer to Senior Officer to Lieutenant to Captain to Commander and then Assistant Chief. I also did work in an undercover capacity in the narcotics division and taught the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program for about a year.
What were some significant policy initiatives that you were involved with at your previous job?
One of the things Chief Riggs initiated in Corpus Christi was the “Reorganization Project.” The purpose of the project was to overhaul how the police department operated from top to bottom, and the assignment was given to me.
We invited the community to help us with this reorganization process. You have to understand that a police department works for the community. The community and officer interaction that we were able to create during that “Reorganization Project” re-engaged our community with the police department. The community worked as equal partners with us to reduce crime, reduce the fear of crime, and enhance public safety. As a result, the Corpus Christi police department looks much different than it did just two years ago.
I was thankful for Chief Riggs giving me the privilege of overseeing that project. I was able to develop as a manager and leader during that time.
Who has influenced you?
First and foremost, my faith in God and my relationship with Jesus Christ are at the core of everything I do. I have deep faith and live my life by that.
Certainly, my wife and children have a great deal of influence over me. Growing up, my father instilled in me a strong work ethic. My mother instilled in me a sense of integrity, ethics and morality. My six older brothers greatly influenced me as well. When you have six older brothers, you learn quickly that if you step out of line, you’re going to get nailed, and I did on several occasions growing up!
From a professional standpoint, Chief Troy Riggs has been a tremendous mentor and there is no way in the world I would be in this position right now had he not invested in me.
What do you do for fun?
For most of my life, I played soccer. I had the opportunity to play in England for two years but suffered some injuries that ended my ability to play, so I began coaching. I was able to coach my children, which I enjoyed. Away from work, soccer was it.
Over the last couple of years, I haven’t had a whole lot of time for fun. So I have promised my wife that we were going to make some time and enjoy the many opportunities the Metroplex has to offer.