Seligman chief resigns, current officer takes his place
June 14, 2017
Seligman’s Chief of Police for the last three years, Terry Burgess, stepped down from his position at the city’s June council meeting. Burgess also recommended Seligman’s current Detective Sergeant Matt Phillips to take his place at the same time. The city accepted both the resignation and recommendation on Monday, June 12.
Burgess said that it was time for him to step down and turn the job over to someone else. He said, “After a combined 19 years between the military and law enforcement, it was time to focus solely on my business. I truly felt like I did my part and contribute.d” Burgess owns 37 Pawn and Gun in Seligman.
Phillips said he hopes to continue on with Burgess’ goals for the city and thinks he has a firm grasp on the position after working in the city for the last two years. He said, “I’m hoping to see the city grow. Terry and I have some of the same views, and I hope to carry that on.”
Phillips was hired by the Seligman Police Department as a reserve in August 2015. By November, he had been hired as the city’s part-time officer. Then, in October 2016, Phillips was promoted to Detective Sergeant after completing Crime Scene Investigation classes, earning his certification in CSI.
Burgess said, “In my resignation letter, I also made it a recommendation letter. Matt has been more than dedicated to this city for two years. Some of the things he brought to the table did nothing but improve the city, and it seemed fitting to me to have Matt pick up where I’m leaving off.
“Matt knows the city. Matt has come to know a lot of the people. He understands the department. His willingness to do the hard things and put in the legwork will make him a good chief.”
Burgess said that he is proud of his time as chief and all that he and his officers accomplished over his three years with the city. He said, “Seligman was my first commission. After that, I went full time with the county, and eventually came back here.
“My goal coming in was just to provide a professional police department to the community and update the police department. I honestly feel that we went from being one of the most underdeveloped departments to one of the most technologically advanced. We were the first to put computers in the cars, the first to do mobile ticketing. We really put a lot of technological advancement into the department.”
He added that he is proud of Phillips and all of the officers that have passed through Seligman during his time in charge of the department.
“I’m really proud that every officer I’ve had leave the department and go to Barry County, Cassville and Newton County. They all moved up. Unfortunately, we’ll always be a stepping stone department, but even this officer has succeeded me in becoming chief.
“All of the officers I’ve hired have gone on to bigger and better things. That’s what I’m most proud of,” Burgess said.
Both Phillips and Burgess agreed that the biggest changes in the department came with the equipment and technological advancements. Phillips said they’ve recently transitioned from laptops in their cars to Toughbooks, a military grade computer. He added that having new cars is also a big asset.
Burgess said, “One of my big things was update the equipment for future officers to have the right equipment to do the job. I’m really proud of that.”
Now Phillips will pursue hiring another officer to assist with the department. Currently, Phillips is the only officer now that Burgess has stepped down. Phillips said, “The coverage is the biggest issue right now, in my opinion. We’re averaging 30 hours of coverage, because we do not have a full-time officer. But we are currently seeking a full-time officer. We’re taking applications.”
Burgess said that while he isn’t going to be on the force anymore, he will always field Phillips’ questions and help when he can. He said, “I will be available to Matt when he has questions. I still own a business here. I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to be involved in the community in different ways now. I’m going to continue to support Shop with a Cop and continue to make that successful because I know what it means to the families that it helps.”
Burgess did say he would miss parts of working for this city, but in the end, leaving is the right choice for him. “My business is evolving and growing, and as much as I love what I did for the city, it really was time for me to start growing my business. I want to create jobs,” Burgess said.
Phillips brings to Seligman Police Department a police academy degree from Missouri Southern State University, continuing education and two years of experience with the city. He also graduated from Exeter High School in 2011.