By JONAH LOSSIAH
One Feather staff
Josh Taylor stood smiling, talking to his youngest daughter in her playhouse. Covered in fresh cut grass and possessing the ability to answer a call from his wife at any moment.
This is why he decided to resign from his post as police chief of the Cherokee Indian Police Department (CIPD).
“Physically I was tired. Mentally I was tired. I was just worn out.” said Taylor.
Taylor was assigned to his position as police chief on July 29, 2021. Less than 11 months later, he said it was time to step away for the sake of his physical and mental health.
“I know it looks out of nowhere on the front. I’m not going to tell people my personal stuff. But with my momma, my wife, my kids, this has been something that we have been talking about for a while, to be honest.”
He said that it was an honor to have been trusted enough to be put in the position he was, and he is proud of the work that the department achieved during his term in charge. He said that ultimately it was the building pressure that made it unbearable towards the end.
“I’m a big dude. I’m 6-foot-1, 340 pounds. I’m a big tough dude. A lot of people have seen me rolling around with bad guys. Stress gets to me though. The death gets to me. The ODs get to me.”
Taylor said that mental health is something he takes seriously. He said that he knows he’s not invincible, but the toll of the role began to affect him in ways he’s never experienced.
“Do I feel kind of like a loser? Yeah. Because I mentally feel like I let it beat me up. Have I done tougher things? Iraq was a lot physically tougher than this. But in Iraq, I didn’t have to deal with my community members dying.”
Principal Chief Richard G. Sneed said that he was shocked when Taylor came to him with the news.
“I respect his decision. I’m disappointed. Not in him, I’m just disappointed because he’s such a great leader and he’s done so much in such a short period of time. I think that our Tribal citizens see that. They see a more enhanced police presence. They see more officers on patrol. They’re seeing more license checks. More drug interdiction. Warrants being served. And that’s all the community has ever asked for. They want to see that police presence and he’s been instrumental in making that happen,” said Chief Sneed.
The Principal Chief said that one of the most important aspects of Taylor’s role as police chief was to implement a philosophy and adapt the culture of the CIPD.
“Bringing the department back to the mindset that policing is a 24/7 operation. I think that, in the past, the department itself had become lax. The complaint that I was hearing from citizens was that essentially the police department was operating from 7:45 to 4:30. Then, after 4:30 it was impossible or very difficult to see a police presence. The major change that Josh brought about was, ‘guys, this is 24/7’. That we’re going to be proactive, not reactive. To me, it was more of leadership philosophy and organizational philosophy than policy changes. Because the policies are already in place, it’s just a matter of enforcement and adherence.”
Both Chief Sneed and Taylor wanted to make it clear that there was no forced change. Chief Sneed said that he and Vice Chief Alan ‘B’ Ensley received numerous messages asking why they had fired Taylor. He said that was absolutely not the case. This was a decision made by Taylor.
“There’s nothing that happened. There was no scandal and no issues with performance. It was just a personal decision that he’s made for himself and his family. And I respect that,” said Chief Sneed.
“I know that whatever he does and wherever he goes he’s going to be successful because he’s a strong leader. He’s got a great work ethic and he’s just a great human being.”
At the suggestion of Taylor, the executive office has assigned Carla Neadeau as the interim police chief. A full article on that decision and Neadeau’s goals moving forward will be produced in the near future.
Taylor said that community backing Neadeau is essential right now.
“I’m nervous to make any more statements because the community really wants me to come back, and that’s a lot of pressure. Second of all, that takes away from what Carla can do. At the end of the day, I’m still their biggest teammate. I still want them to do well,” said Taylor.
He said that he is extremely confident that Neadeau can continue the work he put in and be able to take it a step further. While he doesn’t feel he could continue in the role, he does feel that CIPD is in a positive position to build on an improved foundation.
“Everybody might be like, ‘oh are you quitting when it gets tough?’ No, it’s not as tough now. The policies are done. I had to bury an officer. We got us new vehicles. We’ve got new uniforms. We’ve got new standard operating procedures, and we’ve hired a ton of people. I just feel like it’s time to hand the baton off to someone that is capable of keeping it going.”
Taylor said that he is taking a break before looking at a new job. He likes the idea of staying in law enforcement, but he also said that he is currently looking at job opportunities in the private sector. What’s most important to him right now is taking care of his family.
“I am a good dad. I love those kids. But wasn’t being a good dad. I was grumpy all the time waiting for the phone to ring.”
Taylor can now focus on the joys of mowing his own lawn and getting snacks for his daughters. He wants to look at new ways to support his community and says he’s excited for what’s next in his future and the CIPD under Carla Neadeau.