West Memphis Police Chief Bob Paudert retiring on his own terms - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

West Memphis Police Chief Bob Paudert retiring on his own terms

(WMC-TV) - Wednesday marked the end of an era in Mid-South law enforcement as one of the most outspoken lawmen in recent history retired his badge.

West Memphis Police Chief Bob Paudert's more than four decades of service came to an end Wednesday.

"A person can stand just so much," said Paudert.  "And everybody says, 'well you're strong.'  Not that strong."

Paudert said the moment that made him decide to leave law enforcement was the death of his son, Brandon Paudert, and fellow officer Bill Evans.

"The passion I had for this job, that I had for 44 years, was gone," he said.

Brandon Paudert and Evans were shot and killed on the side of the interstate in West Memphis by two self-proclaimed Sovereign Citizens.

Bob Paudert's career began in 1966.  He spent 25 years with the Shelby County Sheriff's Department.  He started out in the jail, moved to patrol, and a few years later asked the then sheriff if he could work undercover in narcotics.

"I thought it would be very exciting," said Bob Paudert.  "And sometimes more than I wanted."

It meant a big style change for him, as well as a new identity.

"I was a gun runner out of Alabama, that was my story," he said.  "I had Alabama identification."

Bob Paudert's teacher was a confidential informant who used to be a drug dealer.

"He told me what to say, and the first thing was, keep your mouth shut when we're together until you learn what to say, and I did," he said.

Bob Paudert was undercover for a year, then surfaced as a pilot for law enforcement.

"They trained me how to fly airplanes and helicopters," said Bob Paudert.

That lasted for eight years.  He then went back to metro narcotics and eventually became the chief.  He retired, only to end up Bartlett Police Chief, where a pattern started.

"There was another clash with the city council, which I was not known for getting along with too well," he said.

Bob Paudert said he does not back down when he believes he is right, and he would have to resolve that when he became West Memphis Police Chief 12 years ago.

"I have been obstinate, I guess in some ways," said Bob Paudert.  "I've always felt like what I was doing was right."

He cleaned up the West Memphis Police Department, firing some officers.  Some even went to prison.  But he was criticized for standing behind some officers he believed in.

"I was highly criticized for standing behind Erik Sammis and Jimmy Evans," he said.  "Highly criticized."

Sammis is the officer who shot and killed 12-year-old DeAuntae Farrow.  He thought his toy gun was real.

The man described as a tough cop but compassionate gentleman is ending his law enforcement career the way he does everything.

"I'm leaving on my own terms," said Bob Paudert.  "I'm not run out of town by anybody."

Bob Paudert will not retire from all work.  For the past year, he has been traveling around the country speaking to law enforcement groups about the Sovereign Citizens Movement.  He will now do that full time.

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