HENDERSON (FOX5) -- It has been a turbulent few years for the Henderson Police Department, as the last two leaders of the force left the department unexpectedly.
Thedrick Andres is now the interim chief of police.
"I think my role as an acting chief, it’s important for me to make sure the department understands my heart," Andres said. "Transitioning as the police chief has been pretty, pretty busy job but it’s been very rewarding."
Just like the rest of his 28-year law enforcement career, he said.
"Working in New Orleans, I worked in some of our housing development but what called back then housing projects," he said.
The projects were tough. So was Hurricane Katrina ... Seeing a lot of the devastation that happened there, those things too have also helped me to grow as a leader," he said.
Andres was a New Orleans police officer for seven years.
In 2005, he went to the Arlington Police Department in Texas. That’s where he met former Henderson Police Chief Latesha Watson.
"We worked together for about 13 and a half years at the city of Arlington ... We were colleges obviously when Latesha had an opportunity to come to Henderson I think she knew my background in field operations as it relates to geographic policing and she offered me an opportunity to come join her here," said Andres.
Watson brought Andres on as her deputy chief, even though he had a controversial past.
"I was brutally attacked, brutally attacked."
In 2014, Andres shot and killed a man while he was off duty. A grand jury agreed he acted in self-defense.
"To be brutally attacked with your wife watching, to be beaten unconscious, is something that has allowed me as a police chief to really understand the importance of victims’ rights," he said.
His friend and colleague, who was the first African American woman to lead the Henderson Police Department, was fired in April.
The public still doesn’t know why. It's also unknown why the chief prior to her, Patrick Moers, was fired.
"You know, I think from the perspective with the community, I think our community may have an interest in wanting to understand why both of those leaders left. That’s really a decision that came from our city management office," said Andres.
The Henderson city attorney hired a law firm to investigate more than a dozen complaints against Watson.
Andres’ name was in there, too.
"When I see claims like that, it’s very disturbing, because they don’t remotely describe who I am as a law enforcement executive," said Andres.
Someone sent an anonymous email to the mayor and city manager saying Watson and Andres created a hostile work environment.
"That is something the city attorney’s office is looking into. I can tell you I believe in my track record and my track record has always been one of inclusiveness one for engagement," he said.
Being an engaging leader is how Andres plans to move the department forward.
"Just recently this Friday, I was riding out for a few hours on patrol with an officer and during those contacts and getting out of the car with him and discussing his day to day job and discussing what’s important to me," said Andres.
Andres said that won't be his last ride-along with patrol officers.
"I think the most important thing when it comes to leadership is to ensure that our officers have a voice, that they have an avenue to Chief's office," he said.
He said he believed the city has always done a great job at providing resources.
The department is getting used to a new crime-fighting plan known as geographic-based policing. Officers, lieutenants and captains are assigned to a beat.
"We have been better at now forecasting at where crime is and we’ve actually had some wins in crime reduction as it relates to property crime. We’re also seeing our violent crime and seeing some reduction in those areas," he said.
In other areas, "We had a complaint of some young men in the street playing hockey. Our officers showed up and talked about the importance of traffic safety, but we also were able to share in a game of hockey with the youth."
Even with those small victories, Andres said he knows the department needs work.
"I believe right now the organization needs calm and stability. I will assure you that I am the person that will bring that to the organization and I do that because I will always lead with my heart," he said.