On May 15, Blaine D. Clark, 54, became the active police chief of DuBois, Pa. This position allows him to continue the legacy of his father, Darrell E. Clark, who was the police chief of DuBois for 36 years.
“Public service has always been a passion of mine,” Clark said. “Ever since I was a child, as long as I can remember, I wanted to work in public safety. I wanted to be both a police officer and firefighter because that’s actually something I witness my dad doing as well.”
However, even though Clark’s position is the same as his father’s, the responsibilities are different as he must navigate DuBois through a new age of law enforcement. One where crime is up and respect for law enforcement is down.
“Sadly, the national narrative has shifted from total respect for law enforcement to a growing disrespect for law enforcement officers,” he said. “The city of DuBois is still a small community. It still has a small community feel, but it’s combating larger city problems as well. The city has experienced a downturn in population but an upturn in criminal activity.”
However, he believes that his father’s tutelage will still help him today.
“I learned (from my father) that being a public servant is definitely not a nine-to-five job,” Clark said, “and regardless of the level or rank, the passion to serve and protect is constant. It is not a position taken lightly and it isn’t one you can leave at the office.”
He has seen firsthand how these characteristics in his father were able to impact members of the community. At his father’s funeral, Clark noticed a disheveled man whom he did not recognize. When he approached the man to thank him for coming, the man told him how the late police chief had saved his life and because of that he felt compelled to show his respects.
“The fact that dad was able to impact this one man so profoundly made me realize just how influential one person can be to another. So if I can impact one person’s life or give them positive redirection (through my work as a police chief ), it’s all worthwhile.”
Clark will also use the knowledge gained from his own experiences as both a law enforcement officer and firefighter.
In 1985, he began his career in public service. It was then, after growing up in DuBois, he and his wife moved to Clayton County, Ga., which is in the metropolitan area of Atlanta. In addition to a thriving local economy, the motivation behind the move was that it would provide the young couple with better opportunities to advance in their careers, while also giving Clark a chance to work in multiple public safety departments.
His first position in Clayton County was as a detention officer for the Clayton County Sheriff ’s Department. A few years later, he transferred to the county’s fire department. From there his career flourished.
“I held all the ranks throughout fire department,” said Clark. “I was a lieutenant battalion chief, deputy chief of EMA and Homeland Security, a deputy sheriff for Clayton County police department, a reserve sheriff and was deputized as a special U.S marshal through the Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force in Georgia. I was a tactical administrator.”
“Then I became the chief of police with the Clayton County Fire and Emergency Police Department. This is when we actually started a police department within the emergency services.”
The other public services within this emergency department were EMS, EMA and fire. Clark was integral in starting the police department within an emergency services department that had already existed for years. A department that he said was “crucial” for maintaining the safety of the community.
“It also allowed our medically trained personnel men and women to be certified police officers in an effort to prepare for the worst-case scenarios,” he said. “So basically, like our tactical medic program, it would respond with all of our special operations.”
He and his team were utilized by some of the most elite departments in the metro-Atlanta area, including the U.S. Marshall service. They were also called upon by other counties in need of tactical medics.
While with Clayton County, Clark was a two-time recipient of both the Medal of Valor through Clayton County Fire and Emergency Services and Trauma Life Saving Award, as well as a recipient of the Rescue Award, the Georgia State Pediatric Trauma Award, was named the Firefighter of the Year, and was an honor graduate of Basic Law Enforcement class of 2016.
However, none of these awards can compete with his role as husband, father and a poppa since his number one accomplishment is family.
That’s why, three years ago, he returned to DuBois after retiring from Clayton County. Then, shortly after settling back into his hometown, he decided it wasn’t right for him to be idle, especially given all of the valuable knowledge he could pass on to members of the public service community in DuBois. In his opinion, “there’s no greater professional compliment than to witness those in your command succeed.”
Soon after, he found a public service opportunity in DuBois.
“I couldn’t sit around too long,” Clark said, “so that’s actually when I got hired with the area school district police department and I worked there for two years, and then this position became available and I put in for it.”
Now, as the police chief of DuBois, he has a number of goals he hopes to accomplish.
“I definitely want to foster department that is professional, proactive, respected, loyal and well-trained, and that is a family-and-community-oriented department,” said Clark. “With that, I will pledge to aggressively fight crime and the criminal element by utilizing all and any resources available. I, too, want to live and work in the safest community possible.”
It’s good news that Clark believes that these goals were already being fostered by the community.
As for the rising crime in DuBois, he said that “officer presence” is the number one deterrent of criminal activity, but will use whatever tools available to him in order to keep the people of DuBois safe.
“I have a love for this community that help provide me with a safe and happy childhood,” Clark said. “It’s funny, when my wife and I moved away, we knew in the back of our minds that we’d come back one day. My loyalty to this city in conjunction with my professional qualities and diverse training provides me with the opportunity to develop a department that the community can depend on.”
With that, it’s safe to say that Clark is well on his way to leading a department that exhibits many of the same qualities that his father’s department did.