ARCOLA, Texas (KTRK) -- After a year full of controversy, the City of Arcola has a new police chief, and she's making history. Last Tuesday, the city council voted unanimously to appoint Arika Carr, who officials said is the first Black woman to be chief of police in Fort Bend County.
"That's a big accomplishment. One that means a lot to me, where I'm able to be a role model for other African American women and little girls," she said. "It's tough in law enforcement because you don't see a lot of women as the head of agencies, whether it's a police, sheriff, or constable's office."
Carr admitted she didn't always imagine herself in law enforcement. She grew up in Rosenberg and said her interest was piqued after a bad experience with a police officer.
"Oddly enough, when I was a child, I was afraid of the police. Terrified. I just didn't want anyone else to go through that. I didn't want another person to feel that way," she said.
Carr is the mother of five children. The oldest is 22 years old, and the youngest is 6 months old. She started her first job as an officer in 2010 with the Meadows Place Police Department, later joining Arcola Police Department in 2017.
Since then, she's witnessed frequent changes in leadership as well as back-to-back controversies during the last year. It was always something she was passionate about changing.
"I hope we don't keep the old reputation. I hope that we build our reputation to be one of the best police departments in the state of Texas. So I'm hoping that with our growth and with the changes, that people will start looking at us like that," Carr said.
In November, a former Arcola police officer was indicted after allegations of sexual misconduct emerged from two different women. Just last month, former Chief David Rougeau resigned after only six months on the job, amid accusations of retaliation from a fired officer.
According to documents obtained by the 13 Investigates team, Carr is the 10th person to become chief of the Arcola Police Department in the last 10 years. The shortest term is one month, and the longest is two years and seven months.
Mayor Fred Burton believes this decision by the city council is one that will stick. He stated Carr's dedication to the job as one of the reasons why the council decided to promote from within.
"I'm in my fifth term, and as you know, with the history in the city, I think this is one time that we didn't go outside looking. We looked from within, and without a shadow of a doubt, I think we got it right this time," he said. "She's a model to the department. Her work speaks for itself. I see how she goes about doing her job. I believe she's committed to the city."
He believes her unique perspectives will steer the department in the right direction. With how diverse Fort Bend County is, he said it's about time to have someone like Carr in leadership.
"I was glad I was able to pin that badge on her. Arcola has been through some bad press over the last five years. But now is the time for us to get some good press. That makes my heart warm and makes me feel good about this leadership that we have in place for the department," he said.
Carr stated some of her goals are to uphold transparency with the public, increase community engagement, conduct monthly trainings for officers, and provide reports on social media. When asked how long she plans on being in this role, she said she won't be going anywhere anytime soon.
"I love the city of Arcola. My vision is to not only protect the city but to make our police department better and to serve this community as a whole," Carr said. "Any allegations or anything that comes up with the department, we are going to be 100% transparent on that. We have plans that we'll implement this year to help boost morale in our community."