OPD Chief Birbeck announces run for Sheriff
Olney Police Chief Dan Birbeck announced he will run for Young County Sheriff against incumbent Travis Babcock. If he wins the March primary, Chief Birbeck would become the first Young County Sheriff to reside in Olney.
Born and raised in Midland, Chief Birbeck, 52, served in the Texas Army National Guard and has more than 25 years of law enforcement experience. He got his first peace officer job in Lone Oak, Texas while running his own private security company, and moved into full-time policing a couple of years later, he said.
Before taking his current job in 2020, Chief Birbeck served as a Captain of the Dallas County Hospital District Police Department for about 16 years, overseeing the patrol and communications divisions of about 150 people.
In 2009, Chief Birbeck began volunteering as a reserve deputy for the Young County Sheriff ’s Office and in 2018 became a full-time deputy there after he retired from Dallas County.
Chief Birbeck also is a licensed Emergency Medical Technician and has a master’s degree in business administration and is working on a master’s degree in criminal justice. His wife, Wendy, works as a nurse at the Olney Family Clinic. He has a grown son and daughter, and his grandson, Preston, attends Olney High School.
During his tenure, OPD saw its caseload double to about 1,000 and recede again as police shut down the town’s entrenched drug dealers, dealt with post-COVID abuse cases, and went after building code and health and safety violators. He joined fellow Young County Republicans at the County Courthouse on Saturday to file as a candidate for the office of Sheriff.
The Enterprise talked to Chief Birbeck about his plans for the Sheriff ’s Office if he is elected on Nov. 8.
Enterprise: What was it like to make this announcement today?
Chief Birbeck: It is pretty exhilarating. It’s my first time stepping into public office where I will be elected so it’s pretty exciting. I’m looking forward to campaigning and serving the citizens of Young County in the capacity of sheriff. I think I bring a lot of great qualities and experience and have a lot of great plans to make the Sheriff ’s Office more efficient and I think it’ll be a good experience.
Enterprise: As word that you’re running gets out, people seem torn – they don’t want you to leave. So what’s the positive side from Olney about you becoming sheriff?
Chief Birbeck: Well, I don’t think that I am going to be an Olney resident. I will still be living here. This is home. Olney would be gaining not losing. We would make sure and work with the City Council … to replace my position with somebody that is going to have a good relationship with the Sheriff ’s Office and be the right fit for Olney. And then we work together as a team to address problems, not only just in Olney but in the entire county.
Enterprise: What is the succession plan for Olney Police Department should you win?
Chief Birbeck: I visited with the Council and the Mayor and the City Manager to discuss how we would go about replacing me. They agreed that I should be a part of the selection process, and if I was successful in the bid for Sheriff then there would be the opportunity for them to hire in the new chief, maybe as an assistant chief and get trained up and be very comfortable before I would leave to assume the Sheriff ’s position. So that way, they’re not coming in cold and would know exactly what they need to do to be successful here in Olney.
Enterprise: On day 1 as Sheriff, what is your priority?
Chief Birbeck: There are a lot of things that I intend to address and of course, everything’s not going to happen overnight.
One of my biggest priorities is being a servant-leader to the Sheriff ’s Office staff.
On my first day at the Sheriff ’s Office, I will provide everyone with a written copy of my leadership philosophy. This philosophy is a written document of my expectations and also what I hold myself accountable to, that highlights my values and my expectations.
There are a lot of really talented and dedicated professionals at the Sheriff ’s Office and I want to assure them that my intention is not to go in there and start terminating people but to do an evaluation of everyone’s roles and responsibilities and make sure that they are supported and that they have the appropriate resources to do their job effectively, whether that’s through training, whether that’s through realignment of assignments, and to make sure that the office is functioning effectively to address the needs of the community.
Olney Police Chief Dan Birbeck joined GOP candidates on Saturday at the Young County Courthouse to declare his canddiacy for Sheriff of Young County.