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Behind The Badge: Centerville Police Chief Paul Child covers the entire city on foot


CENTERVILLE (ABC4 News) – Centerville Police Chief Paul Child doesn’t just talk the talk. He walks the walk.

Chief Child is taking steps to connect with the community. A lot of steps…probably several hundreds of thousands of them this summer alone because over the past three months he’s patrolled every block in town.

You see, when the gyms closed because of Covid-19, he made a decision.

“I’m going to walk every street in the city this summer and just make it a personal challenge,” Chief Child told Behind The Badge.

That’s 61 miles of paved city streets stretching from the industrial area west of I-15 to the neighborhoods in the eastern foothills. Most mornings from 7 to 8:30 he hit the streets, keeping track of his progress on a big map in the Department and a small map in his pocket.

“People would be lookin’ at me like ‘What’s he doin’? You know I could see them lookin’ at me then they’d stop and they’d say ‘Is everything OK here?’,” he said with a laugh. “People would make comments like ‘Did they take your car away from you?’.”

“I’ve been patrolling these streets in a police car since 1983. I mean I’ve handled thousands and thousands of details, gone to lots of homes,” he added. “I’m quite familiar with the town but I learned things I didn’t know…This gentleman said ‘Hey I need to show you something’ and he brought me down to this little alleyway that I didn’t even know was there and there was this well-worn trail into a No-Man’s land that was overgrown and he says ‘The kids are going in there. They’re drinkin’ a lot of beer and they’re doin’ a lot of stuff back in here and I looked back in there and I thought ‘Wow I didn’t even know that was there’.”

After more than three months of striding, the Chief marked off his last street on his birthday, September 1st. He calls it an “incredible experience”.

“Years ago, law enforcement, that’s what we did, right? A lot of foot patrols and walkin’ the beat and in larger cities, New York for example,” the Chief said. “In the rural areas we’ve kind of gotten away from that with vehicles and we tend to become a little separated in doing that because now we’re sitting behind glass and metal and we’re driving down the road not really that approachable so we’ve kind of gotten away from that walking and interacting with people.”

Now that Chief Child has completed his quest, he’s mainly back in his police car…but don’t be surprised if you see him pounding the pavement next summer when he says he just might try to do it all over again. 

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