Malvern Police Chief Donny Taber was awarded the Kristi Parker Norris Leadership Award on Jan 23, 2014.
“Donny is a leader that takes action,” Williams said. “He encourages others to do the same and is known for getting things done for the benefit of many in just a short period of time.”
Williams said he remembers Taber as a jailer with the Hot Spring County Sheriff’s Office. Judge Williams called the police chief the epitome of integrity.
Since Taber became chief in 2008, one of his largest accomplishments has been a training center that was built by Taber and his officers. The facility includes a firing range, an obstacle course and a “shoot house,” a building used for training special weapons and tactics teams.
Taber said the center is used by FBI agents, as well as other federal, state and local law enforcement officers. Funding for the $75,000 facility came from grants and donations, and the work was done by the chief and members of his department.
A native Texan, Taber first became a member of the Ward County (Texas) Sheriff’s Office, completing Texas Regional Police Academy training in 1989.
“My mom lived in Malvern, and her family is here, and I moved here to be with her,” Taber said during an interview after the awards dinner. “I became a Hot Spring County sheriff’s deputy in 1995.”
His career almost ended when he fell down concrete stairs at the Hot Spring County Jail, injuring his back and neck. He did not wear a badge for four years.
“I went to physical therapy and worked to come back, after I had been told I never could,” Taber said. “I was cleared and took the test to join the
Malvern Police Department.”
As a Malvern police officer and when he was a deputy, Taber enjoyed working on patrol.
“I didn’t want to be a detective,” Taber said. “The streets are where it is at. That’s where you can make an impact.”
While working on patrol, he said, he responded to a call about a disturbance at a house in Malvern. At the house, a man doused Taber with gasoline. The man then threw the gas around the house and lit a fire in an effort to burn the house down and kill himself.
“I had no choice. I had to run back in the house and bring him out,” Taber said. “I don’t think of it as being brave; it’s just the right thing to do.”
After two years on the street with the Malvern police, Taber was placed on a multi-jurisdictional narcotics task force in the region.
“There is nothing like going to buy drugs, and a family member sees you,” Taber said about one undercover assignment. “I knew it would turn bad very quickly.”
Promoted to sergeant, Taber did serve as a detective, investigating violence against women and children.
He became chief of police in 2008. Taber said he took on administrative duties to have an impact on the department.
“I wanted to be part of the hiring process for new officers,” he said. “I knew the more I moved up, the more of an impact I would have.”
Taber was the only award winner at the banquet who was not aware that his name was going to be called.
“I had no idea,” he said. “I don’t know what Judge Williams said as I was walking to the front of the room. Only walking back did I see my mother and my son were there. It is the highest honor I have ever received.”
We honor you, Donny Taber.