Brentwood mourns loss of retired police chief
Brentwood Police Chief Howard Buttrey and Emery Pewitt, Brentwood’s first mayor, pose beside the city’s first police car in the early 1970s.
Buttrey forged a path for new community in 1971
Howard Buttrey, the city of Brentwood’s first police chief and longtime civic leader, died Tuesday, Dec. 3.
Services will be held on Saturday, Dec. 7 in the Heritage Chapel of the Nashville First Church of the Nazarene located at 510 Woodland Street. Visitation will be held at 10 a.m. with a memorial service to follow at 11 a.m. Parking will be available in front of the church, but may be limited.
“The City of Brentwood and the members of the Brentwood Police Department mourn the loss of retired Chief Howard Buttrey who passed away on Tuesday, December 3, 2013, after a short illness,” according to a statement issued by the City of Brentwood. “Chief Buttrey was hired as the first police officer and chief of the Brentwood Police Department on February 1, 1971.
He led the department for 29 years before his retirement on February 19, 2000. Under his guidance the Brentwood Police Department developed from a one-man department to one of the most distinguished police agencies in the state of Tennessee. His vision and leadership set the standard for the development of our department and we are all indebted to him for his efforts. Chief Buttrey is survived by his wife, Elise.”
In 2009, Chief Buttrey sat down with former Herald Editor Mindy Tate on the occasion of the city’s 40th anniversary.
His reflections shed light on his career and the city he helped build.
“The population was 4,000 then and we had gotten a grant and that paid 75 percent of our car costs and radios. The only traffic light was at Old Hickory Boulevard and Franklin Road and it was a blinking light. Most of the crime at that time was home burglary and a lot of theft from construction sites,” said Buttrey, who had been with the Belle Meade police force prior to coming to Brentwood. At his retirement in 2000, Buttrey had 45 years experience, obviously most of that at Brentwood.
As the city’s population grew, the duties of the police department and its chief did as well and in 1986, (Ricky) Watson was hired as the captain over administration and the detective division after eight years at the Memphis Police Department.
Chief Buttrey forged many strong relationships during his career, but one was especially important. Retired Chief Ricky Watson stepped into Buttrey’s position after the two spent years together serving Brentwood.
In Tate’s 2009 interview he explained the collegial spirit the two shared.
“I think the other one was when Ricky came to work here and we became good friends,” Buttrey said. “I will have to say when I wanted to take off for some reason, I knew it was going to be like it was when I left when I came back and I felt very comfortable doing that. I don’t guess he and I have ever had a cross word at any time, about anything.”
Posted on: 12/4/2013