Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

January 11, 2013

Rusk police chief 'sort-of' retires to become Nacogdoches county jail administrator

Veteran lawman Joe Evans replaced by his lieutenant Jamie Campbell

Ben Tinsley
Jacksonville Daily Progress

RUSK — Veteran lawman Joe Evans has resigned from the Rusk Police Department in what city officials describe as more of a quasi-retirement than an abrupt departure. In February, he will begin work as  jail administrator for the Nacogdoches Sheriff's Department, officials said.

"He's 66 and decided he wanted to spend a little time doing stuff around his farm," explained Rusk City Manager Mike Murray. "The folks at the jail called and asked if he would help them out and he said, 'Sure — for six months or so.' Wednesday was his last day with us."

Evans could not be reached to comment as a home phone number could not immediately be located.  He will be replaced by Lt. Jamie Campbell, who will serve as acting chief of police.

Murray said he hasn't yet determined how to go about replacing Evans.

"We'll need to get our bearings first, but we'll figure it out,” Murray said.

On Wednesday, work colleagues of Evans held a special pizza, soda and cake lunch in his honor.

With the recent retirement of City Secretary Frances Leslie Wendeborn and the departure of Evans, the city manager said Rusk City Hall has become a lot less familiar place.

“Joe submitted his retirement letter two or three weeks after the city secretary did,” Murray said. “It's been a twilight zone around here, at least for me. We will miss both of them a bunch."

It made sense for Evans to be recruited as jail administrator as he was sheriff there for 16 years, the city manager acknowledged.

"He almost made four years here," he said.

Evans was a trooper for the Texas Department of Public Safety from 1967 to 1983. He was with the 145th Judicial District Attorney's Office from 1984 to 1985 and was the sheriff of Nacogdoches County from 1985 to 2001.

Additionally, the departing chief was with the Nacogdoches County Constable's Office from 2001 to 2003. He worked as a Cherokee County District Attorney Investigator from 2003 to 2009.

Meanwhile, Campbell, 44, has been a member of the department for over five years and has worked his way up through the ranks. In addition to his lieutenant status, he also has served the department as sergeant.

Campbell said Evans sent out his letter stating his intention to depart and to work for the Nacogdoches Police Department about a month ago, so the departure comes as no surprise.  As lieutenant, Campbell is well-versed and well-trained in the mechanics of the department.

"I have been lieutenant and the second-in-command for over second months," Campbell said.

The acting chief said he's determined to do the best job possible for the city.

"Not to give out the textbook answer or anything, but our main purpose is still to serve the citizens of Rusk and keep them safe," he said.