Badge of Honor
Chief Joe Grimes Celebrates 20 Years With Brownsburg Police Department
Photographer / Amy Payne
Middle school is the age in which children start questioning their place in the world and how and where they fit into it. They often begin to explore their passions in an effort to determine their purpose in life. Such was the case for Joe Grimes, Brownsburg’s Chief of Police. As an eighth-grader, he set his sights on a career in law enforcement.
“I attribute my inspiration for choosing this path to my parents and grandparents that instilled in me family core values of knowing right from wrong and my own personal drive to utilize my knowledge and abilities to do for others,” Grimes says. “I truly believe that public service is a calling to those that have the innate ability to put others before themselves.”
Grimes studied criminology at Indiana State University. Then, after completing a Reserve Academy, he became a Reserve Officer with the Clermont Police Department (PD). Post-college, he landed a full-time position as a Hendricks County Sheriff’s Department Jail Deputy while continuing to serve as Reserve with Clermont.
“Working as a Hendricks County Sheriff’s Department Jail Deputy, I obtained valuable on-the-job experience in verbal communications and behavioral awareness when dealing in personal interactions,” Grimes says.
In 1999, he joined the Brownsburg PD as a full-time officer. A lifelong resident of the Hoosier state, Grimes has resided in Hendricks County since 1997. During a crossroads in his career, he had to decide whether he wanted to move to a large city agency or continue serving the Brownsburg community. The choice was easy as he assessed his priorities.
“I knew my calling was to serve the Town of Brownsburg,” he says. “The community and school system [were ideal for] raising a family.”
He and his wife, Rachel, have two children: Brayden (16), a sophomore and Maya (11), a sixth-grader.
The majority of his career up until he was appointed as a major, he served nights for the department, working his way up through the ranks from corporal to sergeant. During that time, he was a shifts supervisor and served as a K9 handler — the first explosive detection K9 dual purpose dog in Hendricks County. Grimes also helped develop the Emergency Response Team (SWAT) for the Brownsburg PD.
“We took approximately a year to train before that team went active,” says Grimes, who served as operator, team leader and eventually team commander. In 2010, he was promoted by the police commission to the rank of lieutenant and then selected by then-Chief of Police to serve as the appointed Major of the Operations Division.
Having served as division head for the operations side as well as the support services division that oversees the civilian staff, investigations, budgeting, records management and technology, Grimes’ well-rounded background and familiarity with the inner workings of the agency made him the perfect candidate for the role of Chief of Police once Mike Dove announced his retirement, effective early 2017.
Though it was a shock to advance so quickly, Grimes was eager to serve his community in this new role.
“I still have that appreciation and desire to serve with the men and women who are out there on the road,” Grimes adds. “But it’s good to have that sense of drive because you don’t want to lose the knowledge of where you came from and what you’re overseeing.”
According to Grimes, advancements in technology and public perception portrayals on social media platforms have hindered public trust and created a more difficult environment for maintaining positive community relationships for those who work in public safety.
“There’s this misconception that police officers are not people, but the badge does not define us,” Grimes says. “We are as human as everyone else.”
Brownsburg residents, however, have had the good fortune of witnessing that human side in officers.
“On many occasions, we’ve received emails or phone calls or someone has stopped me in public to thank me for the level of compassion that our men and women show to our community members in their time of need,” Grimes says. “We have been fortunate as an agency and community to have hired outstanding personnel to serve in these challenging times, while maintaining strong community support through our partnerships and public interactions.”
Grimes says that as a department, the Brownsburg PD needs to continually grow, develop, train, learn and strive to be forward-thinking while exercising good change management skills, as shifts within the society and economy are constantly evolving. As 2019 begins, he notes, “We have to be innovative in the methods, techniques and equipment we implement so as to constantly ensure that our agency is properly mentoring and equipping our personnel in order to provide our community the continued public service it so rightfully deserves.”
With the rate of community and population growth, Grimes maintains that the department constantly needs to be assessing the staffing levels of their agency to adequately serve the community. In 2019, the Brownsburg PD expanded their full-time sworn personnel to 49 officers, and they have procured support in the Town of Brownsburg 2020 budget to expand that number to 52.
“With recruitment of personnel comes the need to focus on retention, as personnel are the most valued asset of our agency,” Grimes says. “This necessitates review and potential revision of competitive salary and benefits for our public servants who serve the Town of Brownsburg [so that] we select and maintain the best-qualified personnel.”
Given the substance abuse/opioid addiction issue that is plaguing our nation, it’s great to know that Brownsburg PD has the largest percentage of personnel, based upon staffing, specifically dedicated to a Narcotics Unit within Hendricks County.
“Brownsburg PD has taken an aggressive stance to this type of crime prevention in recognizing the impact it has directly on domestic violence, thefts, burglaries and robberies,” says Grimes, adding that every agency in Hendricks County is doing its part in the investigation and enforcement of narcotics-related cases in this county.
“Each agency works collectively to combat these trends,” he says.
When it comes to school safety, the Town of Brownsburg and Brownsburg Community School Corporation (BCSC) is one of the first in Hendricks County to develop its own BCSC Police Department, this happened in 2008.
“Our community is fortunate to have both agencies collaborate in training and response to fulfill our mission of protecting and serving our community and children,” Grimes says. “In addition to BCSC PD personnel being visible and engaged with their student body, our agency Community Relations Officer aids in parent and youth programs with the school corporation at least once a semester. And our department provides training opportunities for the school staff and personnel.”
Speaking of training, in order to maintain certifications, the state of Indiana requires officers to have a minimum of 24 hours of annual training on particular topics. As a department, however, the Brownsburg PD has gone above and beyond that by providing more than 100 hours of annual training per officer.
“The town and our department have invested in that type of preparation and continued education,” says Grimes, noting that they have a stand-alone indoor training facility in Brownsburg, providing them with the opportunity to have classroom firearms training, scenario-based training and actual simulator training.
After 20-plus years of working in Hendricks County, Grimes has gotten to know many people in the community.
“Hendricks County offers a great support network, both within business and local residents,” says Grimes, who established core relationships with community members when working nights.
“Going from nights to days allowed me to make even more connections,” he says, then adds with a laugh, “Ironically, I also started drinking coffee when I went to days!”
Brownsburg Police Department Citizen’s Academy
At least once a year, the Brownsburg PD hosts a Citizen’s Police Academy, designed to give participants an up-close, interactive look at what it takes to protect and police the community. Participants learn about criminal law, crime scene processing, emergency response team, and more. To apply, visit brownsburgpolice.org.