VERNON (KFDX/KJTL) — A familiar face in the city of Vernon is now tasked with leading its police department.

“This community is home for us,” new Vernon Chief of Police Wayne Hodges said.

Originally from Shawnee, Oklahoma, Hodges has lived in the city of Vernon for the past 23 years, a little more than 20 of that being in law enforcement.

“I worked first as a patrol officer and then as a patrol corporal, my first introduction into supervisory in law enforcement,” Hodges said. “Then I was the SRO for a couple of years followed by a patrol sergeant.”

Then he left the police department for a few years to work for the Wilbarger County Sheriff’s Office before coming back and working his way up to captain. After Chief Randy Agan announced he was retiring last month, the city manager and the commissioners got together to hire the new chief.

“We had quite a few applicants and we had a committee that looked over those applicants and narrowed them down,” City Manager Marty Mangum said. “Had an initial interview with some of them and then narrowed that down a little bit to about four to take before the whole commission to look at.”

It was Hodges’ stability he brought to the department and his impressive resume that set him apart.

“His experience with the department,” Mangum said. “The stability he brings to the department. He’s familiar with how the department runs and what kind of equipment and stuff that we have. Things of that nature. He also has a master’s peace officer license and has quite a few credentials that were attractive to us.”

Now, that he is in charge, his number one priority is to help with something that police departments nationwide are dealing with.

“We need to bring some officers in and get them trained whether it’s putting them through an academy or maybe we can take them from somewhere else,” Hodges said. “Like, you know, that’s the biggest obstacle we have right now.”

Ultimately when he’s finally done as chief, he has one last major goal.

“That’s what I hope for this department, I want to leave it better than I found it,” Hodges said.

Hodges said the department believes in being out in the community and so he wants to continue that. He also wants to thank the community for being friendly to law enforcement, he said it means a lot to them.