Eric Scott never envisioned a career in law enforcement, but once his football career ended, he discovered his future calling.
Scott, who played football at the University of Kentucky from 2003-2007, played professionally, including two seasons with the Tennessee Titans. Facing the prospect of a surgery for an injury, Scott quit football, came back to Kentucky and enrolled in graduate school.
It was then Scott became involved in law enforcement and he hasn’t looked back.
“I had already had four and I was done with surgeries,” he said. “I was young and the Southeastern Conference banged me up a lot being a lineman.”
Once he called it quits to his football career, he returned to Lexington and started working for the UK Police Department while finishing up his master’s degree in organizational leadership and served for 10 years. He worked his way up to lieutenant and also served as sergeant training coordinator.
“I joined up and I remember going to the academy and within the first two days, they were calling me into leadership positions,” he said. “I’ve always been in a captain role throughout my career but it was powerful. I was learning something new, but it was so similar to what I was doing with football.”
He compared the academy to nothing more than like football camp and said “it was just like playing football.”
“The similarities between policing and athletics (is similar) — uniformity, the level of expectation and being held accountable for things that others may not be accountable for. It’s the same standard that I grew up with as an athlete. You have to be held to a higher standard. I fell in love with it and I hit the ground running. I really enjoyed it.”
Scott has been on the job at Berea for less than a month, but already feels comfortable in his new role as the top boss and credits his “God-given” ability to be a leader and also credits training seminars to his growth in law enforcement.
“I do believe I was born to be a natural leader and people tend to flock to me in certain situations,” he said. “A lot of it is learned also, because you can lead the wrong way as well.”
Scott said the transition from a bigger city to a smaller one has been an easy one.
“The amount of people that we have on shift here in Berea is the same as we had in Lexington,” he said. “We were policing around 65,000 and here it’s around 15- to 16,000. It just lets me know how short-staffed we were up in Lexington and it was non-stop activity and this is a breath of fresh air. (Our guys) just don’t know how good they have it, because in Lexington it’s non-stop. For every one collision we have here, there are five to six because of the amount of people. I enjoy the slower pace.”
In addition to becoming acquainted with his staff, Scott has been active in the community and spends more time in the community than behind his desk at Berea City Hall. His main priority is to “lead with intent” and emphasize the golden rule. He added that he’s “big into getting out into the public.”
“You just treat people the way you want to be treated,” he said. “The reality is that when it comes to procedural justice, everyone has a centric value when it comes to humans. It’s how you treat that person through an interaction. Are you professional? Respectful and do you treat them the right way? … When you are in uniform, you are no different than them.
“We’re humans as well and that’s something I want to bring to Berea. These guys are coaches, they hunt, they fish, they are fathers, they are wives and they are men and women just like anyone else in society. We also want them to know the police of Berea are also them. … All we want is a safe and secure environment and we’re going to do the best we can to get there.”
He’s already off to a fast start.