On the final day of the decade, Randal (Randy) Taylor, a long-time disciple at Rise Church (formerly Indianapolis Church of Christ) was chosen by Mayor Joe Hogsett to be the new Chief of Police for the city of Indianapolis. His appointment caps a career in law enforcement that he began in 1987 as a patrol officer in Champaign, IL. His wife, Sandra Chapman, works for WTHR-TV Channel 13 and has been featured in Disciples Today previously for her Peabody award-winning investigative reporting. The ways in which Randy and Sandra have built each other up in their careers is a story in and of itself. She had never planned to marry a police officer until they met.
“I was smitten,” said Sandra. “Randy was a trained professional who wanted to please God and serve our community through his work. Thinking about how he approached his career, I could trust that we would work to build a life together no matter where we lived.”
God’s hand has been evident throughout Randy’s career. In the beginning, he was happy to be a patrol officer. When Sandra wanted to move closer to her Indiana roots in 1993, Randy made the first move. He applied for a job with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, leaving behind the seniority and advancement opportunities he had in the Champaign Police Department. Randy felt God’s favor in his decision, landing one of the coveted 13 open positions out of 1,300 applicants! Within a few years, Randy was awarded promotions, first as a financial crimes detective, something he had long aspired to, and then a move into internal affairs.
He set his sights on being a Major, but then the Sheriff’s Department was merged into the Indianapolis Metro Police Department in 2007. He focused on being a good police officer, which won him the notice of his Police Chief. He was promoted to Commander over Community Affairs, then, to his surprise, was elevated to Assistant Chief over Investigations. Randy was interviewed for Police Chief about a year ago, but he did not feel the time was right and recommended the man who became his boss, Bryan Roach. In a move neither Randy nor Sandra saw coming, Chief Roach told Randy, in advance, that he’d retire after the November election and that he would recommend Randy for the job. By this time, Randy felt called to it, and they prayed about the position and that no matter what happened they would accept God’s will. He felt he could put his own touches on leadership, led by God.
In the end, God blessed him more than he could dream or imagine, as Ephesians 3:20 says. He and Sandra are grateful for the grace God has shown them in how this came about. They feel God rewarded him for making the move to Indianapolis, a sacrifice at the time because he had to start over and make a name for himself all over again. Randy shared that others seemed more qualified on paper, but God honored Randy’s commitment to give him credit. As Sandra sees it, “He was the right man with the right skills at the right time, but it was also pure blessing.” His appointment was not an accident. Randy said, “I feel a responsibility to the city and to reduce crime, but I also feel a great responsibility before God to use my voice to influence people for salvation.”
Randy and Sandra see this as a task far bigger than he can handle alone, so his appointment is spurring great efforts in prayer from Randy, Sandra, and the entire congregation. The city has been grappling with an increasing murder rate, a challenge he will be expected to handle. The job comes with criticism and built-in difficulty. Sandra feels called to encourage him and build him up, and to be unified in the face of the challenges that come with the blessing.
He prays for the welfare of the city and the safety of his officers, to be purposeful in what and how he says things, to put his best foot forward, and to get into spiritual conversations. He believes God has him in this place for a reason beyond law enforcement. However long it takes, he wants to look back on this time and know that he built relationships, shared scriptures and did all he could to save those God puts before him. He does not want to be held back by the voice of Satan saying that the city will not allow him to share his faith, or that he might offend someone.
As a disciple, Randy brings a unique perspective to law enforcement. He doesn’t see things the same way as a person without faith. With respect to those who commit crime, he understands we are all sinners and that we need God’s help to stop doing those things that we hate but keep on doing. The murder rate will change when hearts change, Sandra said. “We have an understanding of compassion and justice from a spiritual perspective,” she added. This enables Randy not to look down on people, even those with a very different background. He understands the presence of evil and the hurt it causes. He believes that showing he cares how people are doing will open doors.
Randy’s years spent in small groups in our fellowship of churches has honed his leadership skills. He is not dogmatic and hard on people, but understands people have flaws and weaknesses. He works to bring out the strengths of his staff and to build them up. He knows that he alone cannot solve the crime problems in the city. This background is part of why he was chosen.
He asks that we join with him in praying for wisdom on how to approach the many influential and high-powered people he works with, and to not be intimidated by their education or position. He wants to build relationships quickly so that he can take conversations deeper and share his faith extensively.
I asked Randy what else he would share with fellow disciples. “It’s not as important where you work as it is how you work. You don’t have to be in a high-profile position for God to use you to impact people,” he said. He believes people approach him because they see him as spiritual and don’t just see his position. He leads by example, uses Scriptures on the job to counsel, and hopes those he helps will come back for more. He may plant a seed that another will water (1 Cor 3:7-8). Randy reminds us we may never know how many people we could impact or in what ways.