Breckenridge Texan

Bacel Cantrell chosen as new Breckenridge Police Chief

Bacel Cantrell chosen as new Breckenridge Police Chief
November 22
16:34 2019

Shortly after the new year begins, Breckenridge will have a new police chief – Bacel Cantrell, who is now a lieutenant with the Breckenridge Police Department.

He was chosen for the position by the Breckenridge City Commission in a meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 19. The commissioners in attendance went into executive session to discuss the issue and to interview Cantrell. When they returned to open session they voted 4-0 in favor of hiring Cantrell as police chief.

“I’m glad he got the job,” current Police Chief Larry Mahan said. “I support him 100 percent. I think he’ll do good. People like him, people respect him, and that’s the number one thing. … He’s always treated people fairly… I think he’ll be a good one.”

Lt. Bacel Cantrell shows a Breckenridge Police vehicle to kids at the 2018 National Night Out. Cantrell, who was recently named as the incoming police chief, says that getting to know the community is one of the most important aspects of policing. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Mahan’s official last day will be Jan. 31, but he has the option to take some vacation time if he wants to. He announced his retirement at the Nov. 5 City Commission meeting.

Cantrell has been with the BPD since 2011, when he started as a patrolman. He is a Breckenridge native and attended school at Breckenridge High School and Texas State Technical College. He attended a police academy that was held in Breckenridge one time.

For a few months in 2013, he worked as an investigator for the Stephens County Sheriff’s Office. Then, he returned to the BPD as an investigator later that year. He was promoted to lieutenant in 2016.

“From day one, I’ve been about community policing,” he said. “We stay in good contact with the schools; that’s been the biggest challenge. Kids are a big population of your city.”

Cantrell said good visibility is one of the most important aspects of a police department. “When I was a patrolman, I’d make probably 10, 20 traffic stops a day. That’s not because I’m a big ticket writer or anything. It’s just that, that’s the base of it, visibility and enforcing traffic laws,” he said. “Then, it kind of progresses…the more traffic stops you make, the more people you talk to. Then, people start telling you things that are going on in their area, in their neighborhood. And, you start building relationships just from making traffic stops.”

The incoming police chief said he would advise new police officers that the citizens have to come first. “If it’s not for the betterment of the citizens, you need to kind of rethink what you’re doing,” Cantrell said. “In Breckenridge, Texas, you’re not really here for the money. I mean, you don’t really get into policing, most of the time, for the money. But, you’ve just got to be a servant. That’s all there is to it.”

Cantrell didn’t hesitate to name drugs – drug selling, buying, using and drug-related crimes – as the biggest problem in Breckenridge. “We get thefts that happen because people are stealing things to trade for drugs, and you have drug dealers who will take stolen stuff for drugs. You have assaults that happen because of drugs, family violence issues because a spouse or family member is on drugs and they’re trying to help out and it’s a lot of stress,” he explained.

As far as any changes Cantrell sees on the horizon, he returned to the topic of visibility. “We’re going to be a lot more visible,” he said. “The guys are kind of already migrating that way, but we’re going to be highly visible and approachable.  You know, living here, I know a lot of people, so it’s easier for them to approach me. And, sometimes I don’t see that the other guys aren’t as approachable until someone brings it up to me in conversation. But, we’re going to be approachable, and we’re going to be highly visible.”

Cantrell admits that, at age 35, he may not have as much as experience as some of the police chiefs and other law enforcement officers who preceded him.  “One thing that I brought to (the City Commission’s) attention about my experience is the quality of my experience,” he said. “I started working under Jim Reeves, and he was sheriff for over 20 years, and he had 40-plus years of experience; he mentored me … Larry Mahan … Jim Pence … he was an investigator when I started working here, and Jim Pence is the best of the best with 30-plus years of experience.  Some places, you don’t get to work with a law enforcement officer that has that many years of experience because they promote up so quick and move on to somewhere else. I knew Pence when I worked in the jail, and it was just one of those good relationships. He just has a wealth of knowledge.”


Story by Tony Pilkington and Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan

Cutline, top photo: Lt. Bacel Cantrell will become the new Breckenridge Police Chief in January after Larry Mahan retires. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

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