Dewayne Wood says goodbye after 25 years at the Blackwell P.D.
Blackwell Chief of Police Dewayne Wood shocked the City of Blackwell when he announced his retirement in February after 25 years with the Blackwell Police Department.
On March 8, City Manager Jerry Wieland announced that Lt. Cory Ingram has accepted the position of interim chief of police.
The next day, on the warm afternoon of March 9, Wood sat in his half-dissembled upstairs office at the police station at Blackwell Avenue and 2nd Street with the same enthusiasm he has always had.
Under that relentless sense of joy, there is a tinge of sadness. Desk drawers are open, and old artifacts and photographs are piling up, ready to be boxed up and moved out.
Decades of OU Sooner athletes’ expressions surround him as they grimace or smile from framed covers of Sports Illustrated, specialty magazines, and glass-encased memorabilia to compliment his crimson-colored accent wall.
Another face looks over him as well: a faded department calendar from 2008 where he is standing alongside slain police officer Janett Reyna.
“I’ve always wanted to be a police officer,” Wood said. “That was always my goal. I would religiously watch the TV series ‘Cops’ and ‘Real Stories of the Highway Patrol.’”
In 1998, Wood turned 21 and filled out his application.
“I remember working at Walmart here at the time, just waiting to turn 21 so I could apply for the job,” he said.
“I always wanted to help people, and the day I turned 21, I submitted that application.”
A little more than two months later, Wood had the job.
“It’s all I’ve ever known, and it’s been the best time ever,” he said.
Reaching for a framed photo, he showed an image of himself and his son Trevor, now 24, as a baby.
Dewayne was smiling while wearing his uniform.
“It’s all my kids have ever known me as, too,” he said.
Entering the 2010s, Wood was promoted to deputy chief of police under former Chief Fred LeValley.
In 2014, Wood took over the role of chief.
“As an officer, you seldom know who’s on the City Council or who is in administration – you enforce the law,” Wood said.
“As deputy chief, I developed a greater understanding for how things work – budgeting, personnel, filing reports, everything. That time as deputy was invaluable.”
Since becoming chief of police, Wood said it hasn’t always been “easy,” and that makes leaving now harder than ever.
“City governments aren’t always cohesive,” he said. “You can have Councils and managers that disagree and make things difficult. But right now, the City of Blackwell is tremendously blessed to have such a cooperative Council and manager.”
Through the years, Wood has seen not just Blackwell, but law enforcement as a whole, change.
“When I first came on in the late 1990s, everything was still done pencil-to-paper – tickets, records, affidavits, all of that, more or less,” he said. “Now, you’d be hard-pressed to go down into dispatch or the squad room and see anyone doing that.
“Fred LeValley was a huge proponent for computer technology, and it was thanks to him the department really modernized in the 2010s.
He said everyone needed computers, and he was absolutely right.” Wood’s fondest memory – his greatest accomplishment – of his time at the department was working with the U.S. Marshals Service and other national law enforcement agencies on the 2019 apprehension of Luis Frias after Frias murdered Reyna, a former Blackwell police officer, in 2013.
In 2018, John Walsh’s Investigation Discovery network series “In Pursuit” ran an episode on Reyna’s murder.
Wood and several others were interviewed. Just one month later, in February 2019, the six-year manhunt ended with Frias’ arrest in Mexico.
“It was an unforgettable experience for a number of reasons,” Wood said.
“I was [Reyna’s] first officer that took her into the field and trained her. It a tragedy for everyone that knew her. That TV series helped spread the word when so many had lost all hope after so many years, and when that lead to Frias’ apprehension … that was such an exhilarating moment. It was the closure that so many people needed.”
Wood said it’s his time for him to leave the department. “I’m getting to that age, to that point in my life, where I want to try something new, and this is my chance,” he said. Wood considers himself born and raised Blackwell, and that’ll never truly leave him, he said.
He went to school with his wife, Tobi, and they began dating after graduation. Three months later, they were engaged. Six months later, they were married.
Now, 26 years later, the two have become mainstays within the community. Tobi is a teacher at Blackwell Elementary School and a manager at the Blackwell Memorial Pool. They have two children, Tori and Trevor. But he said he has a larger family than that.
“That’s the thing about working at a place for so long,” Wood said.
“Your coworkers become your family. Since Tori and Trevor are moved out, I actually see the people here more than I see my own kids now. “I’m going to miss coming to work every day. I’ll miss the camaraderie here. I love working here, genuinely. I love what I do. I love the people that I work with and the community that I work in. It’s been the best time of my professional life."
“I sat up here the other night, and I got really sad because I had joked years ago that [this office] was the city’s space, and I was just renting it. And now that I’m ‘moving out,’ it really all just hit me.”
Wood has a job lined up with the Paragon Systems security firm. He will work at the state courthouse in Oklahoma City. Also, lined up for Wood?
“Tobi and I have been trying to travel more, and I think this will be the perfect opportunity for that,” he said.
Wood said his successor, Ingram, was carefully considered to take over the position.
“City Manager Wieland took this extremely seriously,” Wood said. “It was very important to him. The chief of police is a very crucial position because, if you have someone there that doesn’t know what they’re doing or isn’t a good fit, that trickles down and impacts everything about the department. “There were a lot of good applicants – terrific applicants – and it was a decision not made lightly by anyone involved. I’ve known Cory for years. I’ve worked closely with him. So, when he was chosen, it was a very relieving moment for myself and everyone involved.”
Wood said Ingram has one of the best qualities a chief of police can have: the ability to build and maintain relationships.
“The key to any position, really, but especially the chief of police role, is 100% relationships,” Wood said.
“A chief has to have a good relationship with their department, their City Council, their city manager, and their other departments, and of course – crucially – their community.” City leaders have been pleased with the news of Ingram’s acceptance, Wood said.
“We were all relieved when the responses started coming in,” Wood said. “People were very happy with Ingram’s hiring. I got a lot of really nice texts and phone calls, and the response on social media was great, too. There was a lot of pressure to get that right, and I think I can speak for everyone when I say Cory will be a fantastic pillar of the community and will continue to lead our department into the future in a big, positive way.”
At the Feb. 2 City Council meeting where Wood announced his retirement, Wieland thanked him for his service to the community. Wieland also thanked Wood’s family for the birthdays and holidays they sacrificed during his time as chief
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