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Deputy Chief Brian Crews resigns from SPD

Posted on Wednesday, April 17, 2024 at 8:00 am


Photo by Mark McGee

He wasn’t influenced in his career choice by anything he saw on television. No family members spent their lives in law enforcement. But from the moment he started thinking about what he wanted to be he knew he wanted to be in some form of law enforcement

He never wavered from that decision.

“I don’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t want to be in law enforcement,” Crews said. “As a child I always thought I would wind up working for a federal law enforcement agency.   I specifically remember being intrigued by the work of the US Secret Service.

“I thank God that I realized early on that I wanted a career in law enforcement. It probably kept me out of a lot of trouble.

“ I also recognized early on that I was a home body. I wanted to live in the same town my family was in, and I wanted to raise my family in the same town.”  This more than anything else drew me to wanting to work in my hometown.

So, it was met with some surprise when Crews announced his resignation after 24 years with the Shelbyville Police Department, serving as Deputy Chief of Police since 2018.

Tough decision

“It was a very difficult decision,” Crews said. “You work so hard for that goal. There was a sense of that is where I was supposed to be.

“I am 45. A lot of times maybe you peak too soon. I was looking forward to a lot of the challenges the position of police chief would have brought with it.”

“I was very fortunate Chief Phillips entrusted me to be heavily involved in the day-to-day operations of the department,” He, Major Mathis, and I have worked very well together.  Crews said. “I am very proud of the department we have.”

“I have been so fortunate in my law enforcement career.  I was blessed with the opportunity to experience so many aspects of law enforcement.

Our department is so engaged in the community.  The way we engage with the community has completely changed over the last 24 years.. Community Oriented Policing is so important and I am proud of the work we do in so many parts of our community.

It was generally anticipated that when Shelbyville Police Chief Jan Phillips retired Crews would be the choice to replace him.

“I wanted this to be a rewarding career,” Crews said. “It has definitely been that. I wanted to be involved in something where I felt like I was making a difference. I hope I have done that.

“In a leadership book I once read, Clifton Strengths, I discovered one of my dominant character strengths was Significance,” Crews said. “You want to be very significant in the eyes of other people. In the truest sense of the word, you want to be recognized. You want to be heard. You want to stand out. You want to be known. In particular, you want to be known and appreciated for the unique strengths you bring.

“You feel a need to be admired as credible, professional, and successful. Likewise, you want to associate with others who are credible, professional, and successful. And if they aren’t, you will push them to achieve until they are. Or you will move on.”

Crews describes himself as an independent spirit who wants his work to be a way of life rather than a job.

“And in that work, you want to be given free rein, the leeway to do things your way,” Crews said. “Your yearnings feel intense to you, and you honor those yearnings. And so your life is filled with goals, achievements, or qualifications that you crave.

“Whatever your focus — and each person is distinct — your Significance theme will keep pulling you upward, away from the mediocre toward the exceptional. It is the theme that keeps you reaching. I am hoping my new career will also allow me to experience being significant.


A new career

Crews believes God has other plans for him. He is leaving his career in law enforcement for a position as a corporate attorney with Cooper Steel.

“I will be one of their attorneys on staff,” Crews said. “I will be based in Shelbyville. I am looking forward to the challenges.”

“Working for a company that is known, not just locally but throughout the nation in how they treat their employees, give back to the community, and support public education is very important for me. Cooper Steel excels in all these areas.

Crews is a 2014 graduate of the Nashville School of Law and is member of the Tennessee Bar Association.

“It has been all I expected it to be,” Crews said. “For 22 of my 24 years in law enforcement I have never slept with my phone turned off. I always answered those calls.

“I enjoyed being connected. But that probably added a lot of stress to my life.  This new job will maybe afford me the opportunity to turn off my phone on some nights.”

Crews, who also received a bachelor’s degree from Middle Tennessee State University in criminal justice with minors in political science and psychology.

“I’ve always been a huge fan of the University of Tennessee,” Crews said. “But MTSU was good fit for me.  They also offered the field of study I wanted to pursue. Because I recognized I was such a home body I went to MTSU. I lived in a house or an apartment near campus but I would always come home on the weekends to spend time with my family, go to church and things like that.”

In college Crews worked with then Calvary Bank in item processing.

“We balanced the daily deposits for the Federal Reserve,” Crews said. “I had one of those after bank hour’s job. It allowed me to work throughout college.

Getting hired

“When I was 20 years old, getting close to graduating from college, but not quite there, I recognized the City of Shelbyville was hiring police officers. I put in for a job here and I got a rejection letter.”

Crews credits his age as the main reason he was not hired, but he admits his feelings were hurt.

“I was thinking, `I can’t even get a job in my hometown’,” Crews said. “Looking back, . I think they were just waiting for me to turn 21.

“As soon as I turned 21 I got a call from Randy Adams. He asked me if I was still interested in the job. I told him if he was still interested in me, then I was still interested.”

Crews turned 21 on January 10, 2000 and began his first day with the police department on January 25.

“They sent me to the police academy,” Crews said. “I had not finished my college degree. “I continued to go to MTSU. Back then you could use your police academy hours in your criminal justice degree pursuit.

“I got my degree while I was here with the department.  I started my career in bike patrol and soon after that I became a detective in May of 2022. I told somebody the other day that if I was still a detective I probably would have done the job for free.”

Crews pointed out he was involved in some of the biggest cases in Shelbyville in the past 24 years.

“I was very involved in all of those cases,” Crews said. “I felt like that was where I did my best work was as a detective. I loved being able to get confessions. Getting someone to tell you their deepest secrets is a challenge. I love sports and to me getting a confession is like winning a basketball game.

“There was a lot of job satisfaction. I enjoyed every day I was a detective, but I have never awakened not looking forward to coming to work with the department.”

No place like home

Throughout his career Crews has been offered other opportunities in law enforcement but turned them down.

“There has never been a desire for me to move from outside where I grew up,” Crews said. “People asked me why don’t you go to work for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI)?

“I wanted to work and live in the same town my family was in and I wanted to raise my family in the same town. Once you get into local law enforcement you recognize how you can make a difference in your community.”

Crews will leave the Deputy Chief position April 26.

“I will miss the people I work with, the men and women that sacrifice so much to keep this community safe” Crews said. “I have made some lifelong friends while here.  One of my best friends is Chuckie Merlo. We were on bike patrol together and have rose through the ranks together.  He makes me proud everyday

“There are so many friends I have working here. I am looking forward to watching them continue to be successful.”

Crews will also be able to spend more time with his wife Amanda, their 16-year-old daughter Suzanna, and a nine-year-old daughter, Emery.

Phillips commended Crews on his service to the department.

“With a career spanning 24 years, Deputy Chief Crews has tackled every challenge with grace, determination, and a steadfast commitment to excellence,” Phillips said. “He has led by example, inspiring his colleagues to uphold the highest standards of professionalism and accountability.”