After weeks of deliberation, Sherman City Manager George Olson announced Assistant Chief Otis Henry will be the new chief of the Sherman Police Department.
Henry will be named interim chief on Friday and officially take office as retiring Chief Tom Watt’s replacement on Monday, following the City Council’s approval of a resolution confirming his position. Olson informed Henry and Assistant Chief Ken Francis, the position’s only other candidate, of his decision Wednesday and announced the selection Thursday morning.
“It’s probably one of the toughest hiring decisions I’ve ever made,” Olson said. “Both of them were quality applicants and either one of them would make an excellent chief for the city of Sherman. At some point in the process, you just start getting a feel for who you think would be best for the city moving forward, and I just feel like Otis Henry would be the best person for Sherman.”
The city manager said Henry was excited to hear the news, and Francis was disappointed but professional.
“Both were very professional, but from the beginning both supported each other,” Olson said of the candidates. “You can’t ask for better people than these two guys. I struggled with this for a long, long time because if I looked at the 10 things that you want to get out of your police chief — you look at integrity, you look at all the different factors and basically they were even. It was just a feel, and I felt like this was the best direction.”
The city will recognize Watt for his 31 years of service with the SPD on Friday during a retirement reception at 11 a.m. in the Council chambers of City Hall. Olson said he decided to name Henry interim chief for the weekend to keep Friday’s focus on Watt.
“I felt like that was his day and I did not want to do this on his day,” Olson said of Watt, before remarking on the longevity of many city and department administrators. “You don’t find that very often anymore, where people stay as long as we do. I credit that to this being their home. They care about Sherman, they care about the community. It’s very important to me that the people we have here care about Sherman, Texas.”
Henry has been with the department for more than 29 years, starting with the force as a reserve officer in 1983 and going full-time the next year. He’s been promoted several times during his tenure, reaching the rank of captain in 2005. In that position, which was reclassified as assistant chief last year, he has overseen the administrative bureau and currently heads the operations bureau.
Henry received associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice from Grayson College and the University of North Texas, respectively. He then earned his master’s degree in administrative studies from Southeastern Oklahoma State University in 1996. The new chief served six years in the United States Marine Corps and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, the Institute for Law Enforcement Administration, the Bill Blackburn Law Enforcement Management Institute and the School for Police Supervision.
“So it’s been a process for him, a dream for him to give us the leadership that we want, not only as a captain/assistant chief, but now as the police chief,” Olson said. “Obviously there’ll be some changes. When you have a new police chief he’ll come in with his own management style, but we have a very strong police department right now. Assistant Chief Henry and Assistant Chief Francis — in conjunction with Chief Watt — have run a very good, solid police department for Sherman, and I anticipate that will continue.”