ERLANGER, Ky. -- Robert Arens isn’t new to the blue, but he is new to his role as chief.
The Harley-riding, 57-year-old former police captain was sworn in as Erlanger’s newest police chief this week after 25 years with the department.
Arens takes the place of Marc Fields, who moved to city administrator, a position vacant for a year.
The new chief, who has a new, shiny gold badge pinned to his pristine, pressed, white, button-up shirt, admitted that being a police chief was never an aspiration of his. He just wanted to help people and make a difference, while living his life by the three Fs: faith, family and friends, he said.
“I never really wanted to be chief,” chuckled the self-proclaimed family man, married for 31 years. “(But) I believe if you do your job and do the right thing, [decide] with your heart, you’ll be successful.”
And since he believes that everything happens for a reason, he’s taking his promotion in stride, naturally transitioning to his first order of business: Hiring more officers.
With several retirements over the past year, Arens said it’s vital that they get the department fully-staffed with 43 officers and 10 dispatchers.
Arens said he would also like to rejuvenate some outreach programs within the community like the Citizen Police Academy and the Explorer Program for high school-aged teens interested in becoming police officers.
As captain, Arens implemented the Adopt-a-School program, where each school received an officer who would visit, assist with fire drills, etc., in an effort to open lines of communication between the police and the community. It’s something he learned early on as a D.A.R.E. officer, he said.
Working with the community “breaks down the barriers,” said Arens. It’s fundamental to have the community working with you as an officer to solve crimes.
“The more eyes and ears out there, the easier it is to do our job,” he said.
After graduating from Boone County High School, the father of two grown sons, attended Eastern Kentucky University.
As one of eight children in his family, money was tight, so he paid his way through school working as a truck driver. He graduated with a degree in criminal justice and continued on as a truck driver for five more years before landing his first job as a police officer.
It's a job he said he was born to do.
“It’s a calling. You’re in a position where you can affect other people’s lives,” said Arens.
Originally from Florence, Ky., Arens, spent two years with the Elsmere Police Department before accepting a position as patrol officer at Erlanger Police Department in 1988.
In 1995, he was promoted to sergeant, then lieutenant in 1998, alongside Fields, and captain in 2003.
Now, he’s taking the next step as chief and he couldn’t be prouder of his department.
“We’re one of the best police departments in Kentucky,” he said. “I’m excited and looking forward to the challenge.”
Aside from some revamping and restructuring, Arens said that he doesn’t see the need for much more change, he said, reveling in the fact that the department was left to him in good shape.
“We just need to stay ahead of the curve ball with technology and stay on the road we’re on—we’re on a good road.”