After 27 years in law enforcement, it’s time for Spring Hill Assistant Police Chief Brian Holmes to take a new direction, he said.
Holmes, a 10-year veteran of the department, is set to retire from law enforcement at a public reception Sept. 14 before the City Council meeting at the Spring Hill Community Center, 613 S. Race St., Spring Hill.
“I’m content with 27 years,” Holmes said. “I’ve done everything I’ve ever wanted to do in this job. I think I’ve done enough. You always think you could do more probably but I don’t have any regrets. I think it’s worked out the way it’s supposed to. My path was the way God wanted it to go and that’s the way it went.”
Flashback to 1985 and Holmes is graduating high school. Nearly two months later, he enlisted in the United States Army.
“It was the first time ever really away from home and my family,” Holmes said. “When I graduated basic training and AIT, they sent me to Baumholder, Germany, which was the largest concentration of U.S. troops in Europe at the time. I spent just about two years there. I came home, spent about 30 days at home, and then came out to Fort Leavenworth to finish my last year of service. I joined the Army to see the world and all I saw was a mountaintop in Germany and the Great Plains of the U.S.
“I can’t complain. The military gave me a lot that I probably couldn’t have got in junior college or college. It gave me a purpose, a discipline. It gave me the basis for my law enforcement career because I was a military police officer in the Army. It taught me a lot about service.”
Holmes then kick started his career in law enforcement with the Leavenworth County Sheriff’s Office, where he worked his way through various positions.
“I learned a lot about police work there,” Holmes said. “I learned how to talk to people because I worked in the jail for a long time, five years. I wound up being promoted to sergeant and got sent to patrol. I came back to the jail as a jail commander because we were short-staffed in administration. I was given a K9 and I ran the SWAT team. There was a lot of stuff I did there and it gave me a good foundation of what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.”
When Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc across the southeast part of the country in 2005, Holmes worked for Blackwater Security, a government contractor, protecting Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and its assets in Louisiana.
By 2007, he started work with the Spring Hill Police Department as an officer, where he was promoted to sergeant almost immediately. A year later, Holmes, alongside now-Chief Richard Mann, quickly got to work revamping the city’s police department.
“When I got here, we were working out of construction trailers behind City Hall,” Holmes said. “Our cars were not that good. Accommodations weren’t that good. Our uniforms weren’t that good. Our policy manual lacked a lot of things. I saw the potential in the organization. It just wasn’t there when I started. Then Richard [Mann] came along and we hired him as an officer then he got promoted to sergeant. He and I worked well together as sergeants. We got things developed, a plan of attack in how to change the perception of the police department in the city. I worked on the officers and the internal policies and the way the department works. He worked on taking care of the public image and changed [that]. From there, we changed our patch, our uniforms, our patrol car graphics, everything. We just did a complete overhaul.”
Mann agreed that their work together has changed the department for the best, he said.
“After four months of being a patrol officer, I was promoted to sergeant and that’s where Brian and I really began a friendship,” Mann said. “We both worked together and changed the department’s image with the public and other agencies. We believe we have an outstanding department filled with highly-qualified men and women.”
That progress, along with other accolades, landed Holmes the city’s first-ever assistant police chief position in 2014, not long after the new Spring Hill Police Department opened on Nichols Street.
“I’m proud of that,” he said. “I’m honored that the Mayor and City Council and Chief Mann had faith in me to take it and run with it. It’s been a joy. I love coming to work. It’s a great community. I think the city is heading in the right direction, I really do. It’s an exciting time and it’s growing.”
Throughout their 10 years together, spending time with Holmes daily will be something Mann said he will miss the most.
“This time consisted of bouncing ideas off each other on how to improve the officers, department and relationship with the public,” Mann said. “It consisted of us working out together at the gym and discussing ideas on improving ourselves in leadership and management. Brian was my confidant and I will miss being able to see him and just talk in person. Everyone has a Brian in their group, but not like this Brian.
“Brian is passionate and empathetic,” Mann said. “He is tender. I have seen the softer side of him. He is strong, confident, disciplined and goal-oriented. Brian likes to educate and instruct others to be better. Brian’s best quality is that he is a big teddy bear. I have quite a few memories with Brian and they all bring a smile to my face and a tear, for he will be missed.”
As far as retirement goes, Holmes won’t stray too far from his spot at the Spring Hill Police Department, where he hopes to start a reserve program.
“I’ll be around once or twice per month, being seen patrolling, helping out and helping run with Chief [Mann] firearms ranges and stuff like that,” Holmes said. “… I think that’s great because I just change roles and try to help the department in a different way and try to find quality guys and gals to come in and be reserves and volunteer their time so the City gets extra protection for free. It would be really cool to have that happen.”
He will also take on the role of lead instructor with Frontier Justice, a firearms retailer centered on shooting sports and an “authentic American lifestyle,” according to the business’ website. Soon after, Holmes will become the director of training for all locations as the company expands across the region.
“Their motto is faith, family and freedom and it’s pretty cool because those are kind of the values I’ve always had,” Holmes said.
Holmes also is looking forward to spending more time with his wife and children, he said.
“I gave 27 years to this career,” Holmes said. “I gave my youth. I made a lot of sacrifices. I missed holidays, birthdays, anniversaries and stuff because of shift work. I want to be able to do something for my family that I couldn’t otherwise do. This is going to afford me the opportunity to do stuff financially for my kids and my wife that I think they deserve.
“It’s tough,” he said of his retirement. “I’m walking away from something that’s the only thing I’ve ever done. Since I’ve graduated high school, this is the only job I’ve ever known how to do is being a cop.”