CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Mayor Joe Pitts has chosen Deputy Police Chief David Crockarell, a 25-year veteran of the department, to succeed Chief Al Ansley as the leader of the Clarksville Police Department.
“David Crockarell worked his way up in the department, and was recommended by Chief Al Ansley, which certainly carries a lot of weight. In conversations within the department and the community, he clearly emerged as the No. 1 choice,” Mayor Pitts said. “I’m convinced Chief Crockarell is the right person to lead our Police Department into the future.”
The Mayor’s recommendation to promote Crockarell will go before the Clarksville City Council on May 7. If confirmed, he would begin the position on July 1.
“I’m very proud to be a cop and I don’t want to do anything else,” Crockarell said. “I know I’ve got huge shoes to fill, but I’m up for the challenge.”
Crockarell, 48, whose father was a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, was born in Germany and raised in military communities.
He joined the Clarksville Police Department in 1995 as a patrolman and steadily rose through the ranks as an investigator, and later as a patrol sergeant for seven years. In 2006 he was promoted to Tactical Unit Commander. He achieved the rank of lieutenant in 2008 and served as Training Director through 2011.
Promoted again to captain, Crockarell served as District One Commander from 2011 to 2017 and as Special Operations Commander in 2017 and 2018. In August 2018, Crockarell was promoted to Operational Deputy Chief, in command of all Policing Districts, the Special Operations Unit, the Traffic and Special Events Unit and the Community Relations Unit.
“Ever since I was a rookie and he was Sgt. Al Ansley, Chief has been a mentor, and I’m very proud to have his endorsement and recommendation,” Crockarell said. “He set the example, with a high level of integrity and character. I think you could say he groomed me, and everyone on his command staff, by example.”
Crockarell said he looked forward to a seamless transition, thanks to the strong leadership group assembled by Ansley, and to the strong condition of the department overall.
“I really believe anybody on the current command staff could do the top job. Our core group has all worked for Chief Ansley for a long time, and he has definitely taught all of us,” Crockarell said. “And I can say this with confidence, we all really wanted an internal candidate to get this job. In this business, perception is reality, and our reputation in the community is so important. We all know Chief Ansley has done a great job with that, and we want to keep it going.”
Growth, improvement and modernization have been the hallmarks of Ansley’s leadership of the department, which has grown to 397 employees, with 312 of those being sworn law enforcement officers.
In 2007, Ansley began a push for the department to obtain a national accreditation through the Coalition of Accredited Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), and his efforts came to fruition in 2010 when the department received its initial accreditation. The department is on track to receive its fourth CALEA certification this year. Only 7 percent of law enforcement agencies nationwide are accredited.
“When Chief Ansley took the job in 2007, it’s no secret the department had its problems,” Crockarell said. “He decided, ‘I’ve got to fix this.’ So accreditation was important, and he kept us on track. He always told us, ‘If we want more and better equipment and technology, we have to build a reputation for quality. The Mayor and City Council and the community have to believe in us.’ During a time when many departments across the country have struggled with a bad image, we really were prepared to weather the storm. Chief Ansley deserves credit for getting us there.”
It’s clear Crockarell knows the department’s history, and also has thought long and hard about the department’s future.
“As we move forward, many of the same things are on my mind,” Crockarell said. “I’m inheriting a department on solid ground, so I have an opportunity to build on that foundation.
“We have to remain competitive in pay; we have to keep our strong ratio of officers to citizens; we have to recruit quality and draw in good candidates,” Crockarell said. “And we have to be diverse, in terms of race and gender. I’m proud that right now, we have the highest percentage of female officers in the department’s history. But we have to keep improving.”
And any discussion of Clarksville’s future includes the “G word” -- for the steady growth the community has achieved over recent decades.
“As we grow, we’ll have to have more space. So we will continue to work on the planned new Third Precinct,” Crockarell said. “We also may need to add a fourth district, a fourth precinct, to serve the City. There’s always something around the corner. Technology also will be a big continuing project, because it drives so much of modern police work.”
A search for a new Clarksville Police Chief began in January after Chief Ansley announced he would retire from the post June 30 after 13 years as chief and 33 years with the department.
“We have much to be proud of in our Clarksville Police Department,” Mayor Pitts said. “Under Chief Ansley we saw major upgrades in training and accreditation. Now, I’m confident that with Chief Crockarell we have the best possible person for this opportunity, and I’m pleased to recommend him for City Council approval.”
Deputy Chief David Crockarell has been nominated to be Clarksville Police Chief.