Carbon Hill picks Ray Goggans as new police chief

Updated Jan. 13 at 10:45 a.m. - Updated to reflect April Kennedy Herron confirmed she has tested positive for COVID-19. Also updated at 2 p.m. with additional details from meeting and interview. 

CARBON HILL - Ray Goggans, a former Jasper police lieutenant who lately has been serving on Samford University's campus police force, was approved by the Carbon Hill Council Tuesday night to be the city's new police chief.

Goggans, 53, replaces Eric House, who was dismissed from office once the new council took office on Nov. 2 - one of a number of police chiefs in the past few years. Patrol Sergeant John "J.J." Jackson of the Walker County Sheriff's Office was announced as his replacement, but Jackson eventually decided to stay with the county.

The decision was unanimous, although Carbon Hill Mayor April Kennedy Herron was not present as she had been exposed to the COVID-19 virus. District 3 Councilman David Phillips presided as mayor pro tem.

Herron gave an update on Facebook Wednesday morning, saying, "Just in case anyone has heard the word and would like confirmation. Yes, I have tested positive for Covid. I’m fine other than the headache and runny nose. I’ve been in quarantine since Thursday, January 7th. I will remain in quarantine until the doctor tells me I’m safe. Prayers appreciated. God bless."

A financial work session scheduled for 5 p.m. Tuesday night was postponed until the next council meeting on Jan. 26.

There was also no vote from District 6. A councilman for that vacant seat has not been selected yet; the search has been postponed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Goggans, who lives in Jasper, is expected to work out his notice this month and be more full-time starting in February. He was at Tuesday's meeting and talked to council members during and after the meeting.

In an interview held during an executive session, Goggans said he was born in Birmingham, but moved around to places such as Tarrant and Center Point as a child as his father was a Methodist minister. His father, Hoyt Goggans, once operated Hoyt's Place Restaurant in Manchester. His mother, Phyllis Goggans, lives with Goggan' sister in Shelby County, while his father is retired and lives in Pell City.

Goggans said he graduated from high school in Ragland. In 1993 he was hired by Jasper as a police officer. He eventually became a lieutenant on the force, working narcotics, traffic investigations, jail administration and different other investigations.

"I did a little bit of everything in Jasper," he said. Goggans left the force in 2014.

He went into the private sector for about a year, but saw a need to get some insurance. So he went back into law enforcement. "I went to work at Parrish and Cordova, here and there," he said. Goggans has been at Samford for about a year and a half as a campus police officer.

He and his wife Brenda have been married for about two years. He has four adult children from a previous marriage, while she has three.

The Goggans go to Gathering Ministries Church in Argo. "We have the only men's recovery center in Walker County, I'm proud to say. We have four men housed there. It's a project I'm very proud to say our church is doing," he said, adding he "actively participates in it as much as I can."

In terms of law enforcement, he said he is a jack of all trades, as he has done a little of everything.

"To be honest with you, kind of my forte is working with street patrol people," he said. "I did a lot of training, teaching them to do things that treats people with dignity and respect and try to have a lot of empathy with the public and things like that, and how to deal with certain situations."

Asked why he applied for the Carbon Hill position, he admitted at first he was not all that sure he wanted the position.

"But I was approached by a couple of people and they asked me if I would think about it or consider it," Goggans said. "I had the opportunity to talk to Mrs. Herron, the mayor. She impressed me, to be honest with you. I really liked what she had to say. I really liked what she wants to do and how she wants to grow things and do things here.

"And so I kind of reconsidered by thought process. I brought my paperwork in to her, and talked to her again two or three times. Me and my wife, we actually prayed on it and prayed on it, because, I'll be honest with you, I really wasn't too sure this is what I wanted to do. Because I was kind of in my retirement mode and enjoying doing not that much hard work anymore at Samford, just to be honest with you. But between a lot of prayerful thoughts and talking with April, I was convinced this was the thing to do."

Starting off, he said the department needs some new hires and hopes to address that in the next couple of weeks. He later told the council some of the new hires may be in dispatch, and he may come to the Jan. 26 meeting with some candidates, noting some good candidates were available.

Like other communities, he noted in the interview Carbon Hill also has a drug problem and would like to employ a methods and philosophy that seemed to work well in Jasper, noting it would have to be consistant.

"You can't do things one day and not do it the next," Goggans said. "It's kind of like raising children. It has to be something you have to do and don't do every day."
Goggans said he had no problems working with the Walker County Sheriff's Office or other law enforcement departments. "If we all don't work together, we're going to be in a big mess," he said.

He said he wants to earn the trust of citizens, as he doesn't expect to get respect he hasn't earned. He said he wants to treat people like they would treat his family, regardless of who they are.

"It's been my experience in law enforcement you have good and bad in all facets of professions. Our job as leaders in that profession is to weed out the bad and hold onto the good. I just hope I can earn their trust, that they know I will do that," Goggans said.

One thing Goggans - who will continue to live in Jasper - noted to Herron was that he has no ties to Carbon Hill. "I don't owe anybody or anything. I don't owe favors to anybody or anything," he said. "So everybody is on even footing with me, and I hope to be on even footing with them."

He later spoke to the council, outlining his history and his talks with Herron. District 1 Councilwoman Cindy Killingsworth said during the vote to hire him that she thought about waiting on voting until she could find out more about Goggans, but said he represented himself well in the meeting. She also noted he would be under a six-month probation, so she said she would vote for him.