- Associated Press - Monday, May 11, 2015

EL DORADO, Ark. (AP) - If you call up to the El Dorado Police Department and ask for Phillips, the next thing you’ll probably be asked is, “Which one?”

Captain Charlie Phillips, Lieutenant Cathy Phillips and Sergeant Trey Phillips - husband, wife and son, respectively - all answer to the surname, the El Dorado News-Times reported.

The three combined have been involved in law enforcement for 53 years, with Charlie having been on the force the longest, since 1990.

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There’s a definite family bond, as there should be, between the three, but their experience overlaps again and again in the work setting.

According to police Chief Billy White, family members aren’t allowed to directly work together, and each of the Phillips share expertise in their different departments.

Charlie Phillips is in the Criminal Apprehension Division, Cathy puts in her days with the Criminal Investigation Division and Trey works rotating shifts as a supervisor in the Patrol Division. Trey is also a K-9 handler, a title at one time held by all three Phillips.

“Cathy’s dog was about 100-120 pounds,” Charlie said. “It was so funny seeing that big dog and that little woman walking down the street. Trey’s dog is just crazy!”

The banter between Charlie and Cathy is definitely recognizable as husband and wife, and their history as a couple also began at the department.

Charlie and Cathy met at the department years ago and formed a close bond of friendship that became something more, Charlie said.

“We were on the same shift back then, and Cathy would come over and help me with my laundry,” he said with a smile.

Cathy added, “When we were together, if we were at work, it was all business. No holding hands, no kissing. We kept everything very professional. We were really good friends before. People used to think we were brother and sister.”

With Trey now working his way up in rank within the department, his contribution to the mix has been a little different. He has come in behind two senior members in the department, and said he has learned a lot from both Cathy and Charlie, but is making his own way.

Looking at Charlie, Trey said, “I’m following in his footsteps, but I’m not wearing his shoes.” Trey said when he first started on the force, he was referred to as Charlie’s son, but now he has made his mark. In the community, however, he’s still meeting people who know him through his parents.

“Oh my Lord,” he said, when asked about following his dad’s lead, “I’ll be out on the street, and stop someone and they’ll look at me for a minute. They usually cock their head to the side, look at me and ask, ‘Hey, are you Charlie’s boy?’”

The rapport that Charlie built with the community has benefited Trey in a couple of ways. First of all, Trey credits Charlie and Cathy for teaching him how to communicate with people.

“The most important thing they’ve taught me is how to talk to people,” he said. “I wasn’t always very good at that. They’ve both helped me learn.”

Charlie then spoke up. “I’ve always tried to treat people like I’d want to be treated until they made me do otherwise,” he said.

“I don’t have as many fans as he does,” Trey said.

Trey continued, “I’ve always liked helping people. I was always the little helper. I take a lot of pride in it.”

“I tried to talk him out of joining the police force three times, and he did it anyway,” Charlie said.

When asked why Charlie would want his son to go a different direction, he explained that Trey has a degree in another field, and the opportunity to make money would be greater in his field of education. Also, he said, “Things have changed a lot since Cathy and I started. (The police) aren’t always eyed as the good guys anymore.”

But, the law enforcement pull in the family blood prevailed.

Cathy and Charlie named off numerous family members on both sides of the family who had been involved in law enforcement or other service careers.

The family ties between the Phillips are strong, a huge benefit when something falls in various legal categories or goes south.

Trey said, “If something happens, I’ll call Dad and see what he thinks about it.”

“He calls us just about every night,” Cathy said. “He’s a supervisor, and he’s working through it.”

Charlie said likewise, if there’s a property law question, he’ll defer to Cathy, and to Trey for traffic laws. “We all work together.”

“And we don’t always agree,” Cathy said. “We just have to agree to disagree sometimes.”

“I may be the captain here at the station,” Charlie said, “But she’s the chief at home.”

Being in different divisions, Cathy explained that perspectives of certain situations are often very different between the three of them, especially between her and Charlie.

Cathy deals with victims in many cases, and Charlie with apprehending suspects. “I’m looking at a bigger picture than he is a lot of times,” she said.

Charlie added, “She’s probably more compassionate to the criminal element.” Civilian wives with police husbands often go through quite a bit of stress when a bad call comes along, and Cathy said that from her side of it, there have only been a few times she’s been worried about Charlie or Trey.

Likewise, Charlie said he doesn’t worry too much about Cathy on the streets - except for that one time she chased an armed robbery suspect and didn’t have her sidearm.

Cathy said she’s left her service weapon at the station after an interview with a witness, and had gone to get lunch. As she passed a local eatery, a call came across the radio about an armed robbery suspect at that very restaurant.

“As I came around to the back, he came out the back door with a shotgun in his hand,” she said. The story ended well, and the suspect was apprehended without injury to Cathy.

“Everything is ‘Code 4,’” which means everything is OK in police lingo, brings a relief for the family, she said, especially on calls where shots have been fired.

Charlie added, “I don’t worry too much. We’ve all had a lot of training, and I know we all know how to handle ourselves on the street.”

Chief White said he’s happy to have the trio a part of his department’s family.

“Them being a family here adds to the family atmosphere of the department,” White said. “Some families have military traditions, and some have police traditions. We make them work in different departments, and we try to keep their safety in mind. The family aspect comes to the forefront.”

Cathy added, “We work with a great group of officers. They’re like family to us. We’re proud of the department as a whole.”

Charlie said that he’s looking forward to the relationships building between the young and senior officers on the local force, because they’re a part of the family now, too.


Information from: El Dorado News-Times, https://www.eldoradonews.com

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