Horn Lake Police Chief Troy Rowell is calling it a career at the end of June after nearly 30 years in law enforcement.
Rowell joined his hometown police department in 1999 after four years of serving in the Air Force and has been chief since 2017.
“When you know it’s time, it’s time,” Rowell said. “This wasn’t an overnight decision. This was something my family and I talked about for the better part of the last year. We just came to the decision that now is the time.”
Rowell graduated from Horn Lake High School in 1994 and served in the Air Force where he worked as a combat arms training and maintenance - essentially a firearms instructor - and later in military police at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama, which put him on the road to his eventual career choice.
“In my last two years of enlistment they merged us under the military police, so I got to spend some time there,” Rowell said.
Rowell said like most kids his age, he didn’t really know what he wanted to do with his life when he got out of high school. He found that he enjoyed the camaraderie, rank structure, and discipline of the military. After completing his service in 1999, he made the decision to come home and join the police force.
Unlike many of his friends who he went to school with who moved away from Horn Lake, Rowell said there was never any other place that he wanted to be. He admires the hometown feel of the police department because of its deeper connection to the community.
“I worked with a lot of different police officers over the years and the ones that had a connection to Horn Lake, to me, have always stood out from the others,” Rowell said. “That’s the way I always viewed my career in Horn Lake. I am passionate about Horn Lake because I am from Horn Lake. A lot of people who grew up in Horn Lake move away from Horn Lake eventually. I chose not to. I still live here today and I think it gives a unique perspective for policing the town you are from and the town you live in. For some people it is just a job. I think it gives you a deeper connection and a deeper passion when you police the place you grew up in.”
Rowell said once he settled into a career in law enforcement, he always had his sights set on one day leading the department.
“I knew early on in my career that it was a goal that I wanted to achieve,” Rowell said. “I am pretty goal oriented and ambitious. Growing up as a kid I started in the Cub Scouts and worked my way up the ranks to Eagle Scout. In school, I graduated in the top 10 of the Class of 1994. I worked my way through college and got my bachelors degree because my parents didn’t have the money to send me to school. So I would say I am a pretty ambitious person and once I got into law enforcement I knew that was the career I wanted to make and yeah, one day to run the department.”
Rowell said while Horn Lake has its share of crime and problems, he believes the police department is one of the best in DeSoto County. Horn Lake is consistently ranked in the Top 5 safest cities in Mississippi.
“Horn Lake isn’t as well off as some of these other cities here,” Rowell said. “We haven’t experienced growth like they have. That creates its own problems for the police department because when you don’t have that growth, you don’t have that revenue to get the funds you would like to see your department get. But as far as the culture of our department, it is one thing I have always been extremely proud of and have always told our people, I would say we are second to none as far as how we conduct business.
“We try to do things the right way. We’re not in the news very often with bad behavior, so to speak. And it boils down to teaching your people the right way to police. That’s what we have always tried to do in Horn Lake and I think that is what sets us apart from other agencies.”
Rowell’s last day on the job will be June 30 and he plans to continue doing the job like he has each and every day for the last 25 years even though his time leading the department is winding down.
“I’m not focusing on the fact that I am retiring,” Rowell said. “I will go to work every day and do my job the same way as I always have until that day comes.”
Rowell said he will be leaving the department in good and capable hands until the city names a new chief. Just like his predecessors who mentored him, Rowell said he has tried to do the same thing during his time as chief by making sure the department’s ranks are well trained.
“I was fortunate in that previous leaders who ran the department mentored me and prepared me to lead that department once they left,” Rowell said. “I have tried to do the same and feel I have done the same in my time there as chief. I feel confident the department will be in good hands and will continue to excel.”
As for what’s in store next for him as retirement looms, Rowell said he doesn’t have another job lined up to go to and just plans to take some time off and relax a bit.
“I think I am too young to not do anything,” Rowell said. “I’m still in good health. But I don’t have anything planned. I’m not like (former Hernando Police Chief) Scott (Worsham) in Hernando. I won’t be leaving this career and walking into another one.
“But eventually I will find something to do. I’m not really sure what that is yet. I will take some time to relax. It’s a very stressful profession in today’s environment. I’m going to take a little time to decompress and unwind and not have to worry about my phone ringing 24/7 and what’s on the other end of that call.”
Rowell said he is extremely grateful to have worked with such great men and women in Horn Lake over his career.
“I know it sounds extremely cliched to say it, but it really has been an honor and a privilege to have worked with a lot of great people who truly care about Horn Lake and the people of Horn Lake,” Rowell said. “I am extremely biased, but I would say Horn Lake Police Department is the best one around here.”
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