On the job for several months, the newest member of the Payson Police Department, Sherwood “Woody” Eldredge Jr. is already busy at work overhauling the department’s policy manual and giving the chief a welcome break.
The post sat empty for nearly three years before Eldredge took over the task of overseeing the patrol, investigation and special operation divisions.
As a former police chief, Eldredge said he offers the department experience and stability.
“The second-in-command position has been vacant for so long that it has required the chief to keep too many balls in the air,” he said in an e-mail to the Roundup. “I hope to take on some of the responsibilities of managing the officers and the day-to-day operation, allowing the chief to concentrate on important projects and further develop his vision for the agency.”
One project Eldredge is working on is a complete rewrite of the department’s policy manual.
Police Chief Don Engler said it has been several years since the policy manual had a complete inspection. He said department must stay up-to-date with state and federal standards. While the department has continued to make periodic revisions to the manual, Engler said someone needed to take an in-depth look at department policies.
Engler said Eldredge has been a great addition to the team, taking on many operation-related tasks.
“He is doing very, very well,” Engler said. “He is a tremendous help and that position drastically needed to be filled.”
Eldredge said he is excited to work in Payson, a place he has called home since 1999.
“Payson is a great community and the police department is top-notch,” he said. “Working for Payson has allowed me to continue to do what I love and come home.”
Eldredge left his position as chief of the Pinetop-Lakeside Police Department to join the PPD.
During his seven-year tenure in Pinetop-Lakeside, Eldredge said the police department installed a record management system, mobile computer system and received more than $800,000 in grants to enhance public safety.
Besides his record at Pinetop-Lakeside, Eldredge is proud of his police work in Ohio.
Eldredge began his now 40-year career in law enforcement shortly after leaving the Marine Corps.
After his 1969 discharge, he stumbled on an advertisement in the local newspaper for the police department and “thought it would be fun.”
He went from patrol officer to police chief at the Lyndhurst Police Department in Lyndhurst, Ohio in 14 years.
More than a decade later, he became the police chief in Huber Heights, Ohio. During his six years there, the agency achieved international accreditation through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc., he said.
Along the way, Eldredge earned a bachelor’s degree in public administration, a master’s degree in administration and is working on a doctorate in the same field.
He has taught public administration courses at Northern Arizona University and his wife, Debbie, teaches at Gila Community College.
The couple has two children, Todd, a systems administrator, and Tricia, a member of the Coast Guard. They have three grandchildren.