The Huntsville Item, Huntsville, TX

Local News

December 20, 2008

Interim police chief takes reins at HPD

The term “interim police chief” carries with it many connotations. The temporary capacity of the job seems to imply that the person who holds it is only holding out until someone better comes along. They’re an opening act, an appetizer, something to merely tide us over.

People with that vision of the job have never met Allwin Barrow Jr.

On Dec. 12, barely more than a week ago, Barrow took the reins of the Huntsville Police Department as Jean Sanders resigned from the position to work for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Barrow will serve as police chief for the city until a “suitable replacement” can be found. But make no mistake, Barrow is not merely someone to fill in the gaps.

He is a seasoned law enforcement veteran with experience in nearly every aspect of criminal justice. He’s investigated serial killers and drug organizations, worked with federal agents on national and international investigations, served as police chief at seven different police departments throughout Texas, worked in counterterrorism, performed threat assessments for cities the world over and has been commended by the U.S. Department of Justice for his unorthodox but highly effective crime reduction techniques.

Not bad for someone who never intended to be a police officer in the first place. Born and raised in Beaumont, Barrow was first exposed to the job through a friendship.

“What happened to me is that, at first, I was living ‘American Graffiti,’” Barrow said. “I was just going to college and street racing and not really sure what I wanted to do with my life, but I met some policemen in Beaumont and I befriended them, and eventually I was recruited in an undercover capacity in 1969. That evolved into becoming a uniform police officer.”

Barrow would remain at the Beaumont Police Department for the next two decades, working his way up through the ranks until he became a division commander. Beaumont served as the foundation of Barrow’s law enforcement experience, giving him a chance to dabble in nearly every aspect of urban crime, including gang investigations, supervising a tactical unit, narcotics investigations, air and marine smuggling and working three serial murder investigations. Even as he worked the streets of Beaumont, Barrow was also cooperating with various federal agencies on national and international investigations. His recollection of this immense workload speaks volume about how he views his job.

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