City Manager Don Hoyt announced Denham’s new role Monday, citing the depth and breadth of his experience in the department.
“I’m very pleased and kind of relieved to have it behind me and just ready to move forward,” Denham said.
Denham, 42, who has been serving as interim chief for more than a month, said he doesn’t envision any major changes in the near future.
“We’ve got good employees here,” he said, noting the department is set up to run efficiently.
“We just want to come in here every day, do a good job, and at the end of the day, go home safely,” he said.
Hoyt said he believes Denham has a good management style, which Hoyt called cooperative rather than authoritarian.
“I think that’s an important element,” Hoyt said.
Hoyt said the two other captains he interviewed were extremely knowledgeable and qualified. “I felt like they would serve well, but the depth and breadth of his experience tipped the scale,” he said.
Denham began his law enforcement career as a deputy with the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office in 1992, working in the jail there until he took a job as a patrol officer with the Anniston Police Department in 1995.
Denham earned an associate’s degree in criminal justice from Gadsden State Community College and completed a bachelor’s degree in forensic investigation with a minor in law enforcement from Jacksonville State University, working full-time as a law enforcement officer during a large portion of his studies.
He’s served in a variety of roles over the years, working in the jail as part of the Sheriff’s Office, in Anniston on a special street crimes team, as an investigator with the crime lab and in internal affairs as part of the administrative division.
In January 2002, Denham was riding with another officer to serve a warrant when they got into a serious car accident, which he said, “nearly tore my leg off, for lack of a better word.”
Doctors told Denham he would likely never be able to work again in full patrol capacity.
“I didn’t buy that,” he said. So he worked to get back into shape, eventually running a marathon.
“It was almost two years and three surgeries later before I was back to full duty,” he said.
While he recovered, Denham worked in the crime lab, putting his degree in forensics to use investigating crime scenes, among other duties.
Denham left the crime lab in April 2004 when he was promoted to sergeant, and he quickly rose through the ranks, making lieutenant in April 2006 and captain in August 2010. In 2008, he was accepted into the FBI’s national academy and spent more than 10 weeks training with law enforcement officers from around the world at FBI headquarters in Quantico, Va.
Layton McGrady, Anniston’s previous chief of police, said he expects Denham to be a good leader for the department.
“He’s always been a leader, not afraid to step up,” McGrady said. “He was always willing to do what he needed to do to get the job done.”
This included serving on the SWAT team, McGrady said, where Denham was willing to “step up and be the first one through the door.”
Staff writer Paige Rentz: 256-235-3564. On Twitter @PRentz_Star.