Optimist First Responders Night

Ozark Police Chief Tim Clothier (center) and Deputy Chief Justin Arnold (right) at the Ozark Optimist Club “First Responders Night” May 6.

There were enough donuts and Mountain Dew for an entire police department to go into sugar shock. Good thing they invited some guests.

The Ozark Police Department bid farewell to outgoing Police Chief Tim Clothier with a reception May 16, the same day the police observed a change in title for the next officer on the chain of command.

Deputy Police Chief Justin Arnold officially changes one word in his title, becoming “Interim Police Chief Justin Arnold” for the time being. According to a press release from the city of Ozark, Arnold will be interim chief while administrators and the Ozark Board of Aldermen “works to fill the position of chief of police permanently.”

Clothier leaves Ozark after more than three and a half years to become the police chief in O’Fallon, a city of more than 90,000 people. Clothier starts May 28.

“I have met a few of the command staff. I can tell you early on from my meetings with them I’m really looking forward to it, I’m really looking forward to my first day,” Clothier said.

Clothier is credited for guiding the Ozark Police Department out of trouble and controversy in 2015. Reviews of the Ozark Police Department at that time found evidence and claims of abuse of working hours, favoritism, nepotism, misconduct by police officers and ineffective management practices.

The scene was much different in 2019, with police and civilians praising Clothier’s work over two of his favorite treats, Mountain Dew and donuts.

“A lot of people sang my praises today,” Clothier said. “It’s all about perception. I appreciate them singing my praises, however, most of the things, if not all of the things that were discussed and I got the praises for was not the chief of police. It was the Ozark Police Department.”

Many of the ranking officers who work in Ozark today were part of the recovery effort from the past turmoil that boiled over in 2015.

“We have a very dedicated, resilient staff. In 2015, there were some troubling times at the Ozark Police Department, but we have a very resilient staff,” Clothier said. “It’s not the chief of the police, the staff got us where we are today. They built those relationships.”

Clothier said his role in bringing the Ozark police back into a respected standing in their community was a broad one, but that the patrol officers and staff members did the difficult work.

“I kept the ship on course. I happened to be the one holding the wheel, but they were the ones that were operating the oars and keeping us moving in a forward direction,” Clothier said.

Upon finishing his time in the U.S. Marine Corps, Clothier went right to work for the police department in Owensboro, Kentucky, which had 110 officers.

By contrast, Clothier leaves the Ozark Police Department with 33 officers. It is the smallest agency he has ever worked for. He leaves for O’Fallon, a department with 118 officers.

In addition to crediting the police officers, Clothier thanked the many organization that the police work with on a day-to-day basis such as the Christian County Sheriff’s Office, the Christian County Emergency Management Agency, the Ozark Senior Center and many more.

“We as a department have so many awesome relationships, and it’s so hard to name all of them,” Clothier said.

Arnold has been a member of the Ozark Police Department since 2005, working his way through the ranks. Arnold has served in various assignments, including Drug Enforcement Administration Task Force officer, patrol sergeant, support services division commander and in November 2016, Arnold was promoted to the rank of deputy chief. In that position, he oversees both divisions of the Ozark Police Department, professional standards investigations and numerous community engagement initiatives. 

Clothier was happy for Arnold to be made interim police chief. From the time he announced his pending move to O’Fallon, Clothier has advocated for promotion from within Ozark’s existing group of ranking officers. He said he has prepared Arnold and others to move up the ranks.

“When they come to my office with a problem, they’re used to me saying, ‘What is the solution? What are the options?’ I’ve always forced them to think for themselves,” Clothier said. “In order to be planning for succession, I knew that they had to always be thinking for themselves.”

Arnold earned his Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Drury University and his Master of Arts degree in Criminal Justice and Sociology from Lincoln University. Arnold

is a graduate of the EighthSession of the Missouri Police Chief’s Charitable Foundation Command College. He is married and has three children. 

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