HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK)—Phil Watkins has officially been sworn in as Huntington’s Police Chief.

City leaders gathered at Mountain Health Arena on Friday to welcome Watkins to lead the city’s police department.

Mayor Steve Williams appointed Watkins earlier this month when former chief Karl Colder resigned unexpectedly due to personal reasons.

In his time at the department, Watkins held many positions. Recently, he was the Assistant Commander of the Criminal Investigations Bureau in 2020, and then he was promoted to Deputy Chief in 2021.

Watkins says his goal as he moves forward as Police Chief is to build up the department’s staffing.

“Recruitment. Yeah, recruitment. That’s a big thing right now. You will see a lot of that. People are doing creative things. That’s what we’re really going to be pushing is recruitment. You know, this is a profession like no other. It is not for everyone, but we are going to be looking to challenge especially people in this area. We really want candidates to step up and help their community.

Watkins also says public safety in the city is the department’s number one concern, and they’ll continue to strive for that and make adjustments as needed.