Former chief McBride was’father figure’

Published 6:35 pm Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Former Police Chief L.J. McBride left a strong legacy ofleadership and integrity at the Brookhaven Police Department, hisformer officers said.

McBride, who died at his Brookhaven residence Monday afternoon,was appointed to the office of police chief by the Board ofAldermen on July 6, 1965, where he served until he retired in July1985.

He was also the man who gave current Police Chief Pap Hendersonhis start in law enforcement.

“I have a lot of memories of that man, he’s the one that hiredme,” Henderson said. “He brought me up through the ranks, and whenI decided to run for chief, he was my biggest supporter. Up untilhis death he supported me, and he made that clear to me.”

Retired BPD Capt. Roger Wilson, who was with the force for 28years, was another one of McBride’s protégés.

“I loved him just like my own daddy,” Wilson said. “He was theone that gave me my start and guided me through, and he gave me myfirst promotion to sergeant right before he retired. He was afather figure to all the officers, and if you had a problem youcould go sit in his office and talk to him about it.”

Funeral arrangements for McBride, under the direction ofBrookhaven Funeral Home on Natchez Drive, are incomplete.

Henderson said he could always count on McBride to be a soundingboard and a mentor, and that was what made him such a goodleader.

“If you worked for him, he was straight and demanded a good jobto be done, and that’s what put me in the place I’m at now,” hesaid. “The things he had us doing and the things he taught us wereall good. You couldn’t go wrong walking in his tracks. A lot ofthings I do now are all because of the way he did it.”

In the meantime, however, McBride was a regular visitor at thepolice station. Henderson said his chief was excited when they madethe move to the new station on Highway 51 because it meant he couldalways find a parking spot.

And he would always let Henderson know if he had stepped out ofline.

“If I was messing up, he was there to get on my head, but I knewthat he was behind me all the way,” he said.

Wilson said he remembers McBride as being a problem solver aswell as someone who backed his officers when they had to make toughdecisions.

“Anything we didn’t know about you could go see him and he couldtell you who to talk to,” Wilson said. “He stood behind hisofficers, I don’t care what happened, he always took up for hisofficers. If we were wrong, we were wrong, but he didn’t throw usto the wind. He was always there for us.”

Henderson said he received the call about McBride’s passing whenhe was sitting down at home Monday afternoon.

“It wasn’t good at all,” he said. “I personally will miss him somuch.”

He said Brookhaven lost a great leader in McBride on Mondayafternoon, and that he will always be remembered.

“This town had a great chief, and a great human being,”Henderson said. “He was an outstanding man, really a great man, andan outstanding – I mean outstanding – police chief.”

Wilson said the loss is one that will be hard to swallow forquite some time.

“I’m just real sad about it,” he said.