On May 16, 2013, Joe D. Casey, retired Police Chief of Nashville Metro Police and a Past President of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (1987-88) was commended for his 38 year career with the department.
Some of us after that many years of service at retirement would be most appreciative of our ‘gold watch’ and words of congratulations.
Chief Joe’s ‘gold watch’ happened to be an entire precinct building. The Chief Joe D. Casey Building stands at 5500 Charlotte Pike in his honor and as a testimony to a fascinating career and an equally extraordinary man. His accomplishments include his service not only to law enforcement, but in other areas of selfless service to his community.
After graduating from High School in 1946, where he lettered in six sports, Chief Joe went on to a professional basketball team in the Southern Basketball League in the late 1940s as well as a stint with the Boston Braves. He wanted to be a professional sports player; however, an injury side-lined that career.
He applied for a job as a Firefighter; however, the mayor at the time told him he would be a good policeman.
Chief Joe did not want to be a policeman. But, the job market such as it was, forced him to heed the mayor’s advice.
He began his law enforcement career in 1951 in Nashville and rose through the ranks to become Chief of Police in 1973. His tenure spanned important historical events, with Chief Joe sometimes in the midst of it all.
He has served as President of the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police seven times. To this day Chief Joe is an active contributing member. During his tenures as TACP President, he is most proud of the fact that he played a significant role in lobbying for legislation that would require every police officer in the state to be properly trained and certified for the job. (Joe had two weeks training in the basement of the ‘old police department’.)
As a former President of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, Chief Casey was faced with a presidency where the IACP was financially out of money. In October of 1987 under Chief Casey’s leadership with the Board of Officers and the Executive Board of IACP they laid out a plan of action to recover from the devastating reality of financial ruin. Their plan worked and todays IACP still uses the policies enacted and set forth under that plan. “It was Chief Casey’s collaborative leadership style that brought together many different ideas from throughout IACP that kept the plan together and brought it to the success we see at IACP today” said Past President Gruber of Chief Casey. “IACP is full of competent and successful leaders but it really takes skill, a special grace to lead leaders in times of crisis,” Chief Gruber further commented.
“Chief Joe, as he is fondly called by friends and colleagues, continues to serve as a mentor and role model for all of us entrusted with leadership positions. His career and life continues to inspire and influence all of us,” said Past President Russell Laine.
All of this makes one wonder how much more he could have done if he had just wanted to be a policeman in the first place!