When Deputy Chief John Cullison learned the Celina Police Department was seeking a new chief, he felt his 25 years with the Irving Police Department and experience as an Air Force veteran could benefit the growing town.
Cullison is one of four potential candidates interviewing for the position of Celina Police Chief. If hired, Cullison bring with him the unique ability to train officers in diversity and empathy, work with others in a government capacity, and hire and train new officers and staff.
As Celina continues to grow, there will be more people of diverse cultures moving into the area.
“I feel like my time at Irving has prepared me for this,” Cullison said. “For example, here in Irving we have a large Islamic community. It is important to learn about religions and cultures. Then, when it is Rammadan, the officers know what it is and why people may be gathering. It is so important for officers to learn about others, so they have respect for the people in the community.
“I have worked with Chief Spivey with the city of Irving, and especially with the city manager Chris Hillman. I spoke with the city manager in Celina, and we really were able to communicate well. That is such an important piece of this, being able to work well with the city and with the fire chief. I feel very comfortable stepping into a leadership role there.
“You have to have compassion and empathy to do this job well. We need officers who can be problem solvers. For example, if you have a crime problem in the neighborhood, we need to look at how we can make that area safer, not just make arrests. We need to have communication with the residents, so the community wants to reach out and speak with the officers and work together for the whole community.”
Officer Cullison works at Singley Academy as a teacher, training students who can apply for the police department after graduation.
“We started working in the high school to meet these students and to be approachable,” Cullivan said. “I tell these kids the truth. They can be officers if they want to be, no matter their background. I want to bring this to Celina. It only helps the whole community to have people who grew up there serving the community.
“Chief Spivey is a servant leader, and I have learned that from him and others. If the officers and support staff are happy, able to communicate, and feeling supported, then they will work well. If everyone has the tools and training to do well, then that will be an efficient and dedicated staff.
“There is so much growth in Celina, and I think I have learned about growth in Irving. We have grown so much in Irving, and that presents challenges. We have to continually reach out and prove to the community we want to work with them. I feel like I have seen a good, solid police force and chief handle this challenge, and I know how to lead another community as it grows.
“Change and adaptation is so important. I want Celina to be able to be on the cutting edge. We need new technology. We need people who want to serve the community for the right reasons. We need compassionate officers who are serving others,” he said. “We have to be ready for something bad to happen, but we need to be ready to help others. The first words we should say when we are talking to residents is ‘how can we help you?’”