South Valley law enforcement is not new to Exeter’s new police chief, John Hall; but, the Exeter department is, as of January. Hall served with the Porterville Police Department for 24 years – leaving his position as captain to take on the Exeter top command.
Hall said he was very happy in Porterville and was not looking to leave. But, late last year the position in Exeter became open, and his chief there told him about it. It was the first time he applied for a position as a police chief.
“Porterville is a great department with great people,” he said. “I absolutely have nothing negative to say about it. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I wasn’t looking for a chief’s position – I wasn’t looking to leave.”
“It’s a great opportunity,” he said. “It would be a great opportunity for anyone, but for me, I didn’t have to take my kids out of school. I didn’t have to move. I would be able to continue teaching out at the college. There were a whole lot of reasons to put in and not really any reasons not to.”
Actually, it is just one child, his son, who is still in high school. Both of Hall’s daughters are now students at Fresno State.
Hall started in Exeter a few weeks ago and said the transition is going well.
“There’s always a little apprehension, anytime you have change”, he said, “but the men and women here are great – they’ve made the transition for me very, very easy.”
He was familiar with a few of the staff through joint law enforcement efforts and he does know the retired chief, Cliff Bush.
He also knew some of Exeter’s officers through his teaching of rifle classes at College of the Sequoias and Porterville College.
So, he already had some familiarity with the majority of the staff.
Hall has fewer total staff in Exeter than he had in the Porterville patrol unit he captained. Exeter has 17 sworn officers. Porterville has a total of 63.
Hall pointed out there are some benefits to a smaller agency and some challenges.
In a small agency, everyone gets to know each other, which he considers a plus.
However, everyone must take on more tasks, he said, because there are all the same jobs of a larger agency.
While still taking it all in, there will be some changes under his leadership, although he is not sure just what as of yet. However, “any
changes we may look at into
changing are going to be based off of three things – will it increase efficiency, will it increase effectiveness and will it increase professionalism. If it will increase one of those three areas, then we’ll look at making the change,” he said. “We’re not going to make change, just for the sake of change. We’re not going to make change, just to make things easier. We’ve got to increase in one of those areas.
“And along those lines, we’re not going to keep doing things the way they were, just to keep doing things that way.”
While Hall goes through his evaluation process, he is also asking officers and the support staff for their input, as well as those in the city offices and the community.
The motto of the Exeter PD is “exceeding the public’s expectation.” It is a great motto, Hall said and one which he takes seriously and wants to maintain.
“That’s got to be a philosophy that we carry out,” he said.
As he is new to the top position, Hall said he has many advisers he can call upon including his old boss, Porterville Chief Eric Kroutil, recently retired Exeter Chief Bush, and the recent interim Exeter Chief Jeff McIntosh.
Hall said he enjoys the support of the Exeter community and likes the small town charm the city ascribes to. And while residents may not be aware, there have been a number of arrests since he has taken his position.
It is because of the efficiency of those who work in the department that the community may not be aware of crimes, potential crimes, or those who have been arrested, he said.
In his off time, Hall enjoys teaching at the police academies. Other than that, it is all about his family, he said.
Although with the children growing up, that family time is getting harder to find, he said.
When Exeter put out the word it was searching for a new police chief, council members stipulated one thing – they were looking someone who wanted the position for only three to five years, said the city’s interim city manager Eric Frost.
The reasoning, he said, was that the city likes to promote from within.
This may have limited some potential applicants, Frost said.
However, it seems to suit Hall just fine.
Part of his job is to mentor others within the department and prepare them for future roles including that of police chief.
“I may want to be here longer, and you may want to keep me longer,” Hall told the council, according to Frost.
“They’re lucky to have gotten him,” Frost said.