Pigeon Forge police chief retiring after 42 years

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PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (WATE) - After 42 years, Pigeon Forge Police Chief Jack Baldwin is retiring.

"I sit here at the end of it looking back and it was almost like yesterday,"
he said.

Forty-two years ago, when Baldwin became chief, Pigeon Forge didn't look anything like it does now, nor did it have as many people.

"When I started here, it was basically a bedroom community for Gatlinburg. People would come in and go to the Junction, but most of those who stopped were going through town to Gatlinburg,"
said Baldwin.

Over time, the city has grown to quite the tourist destination and the police force had to keep up.

"There are a lot more calls. There are a lot more people. There is a lot more traffic,"
Baldwin said.

Along with the population growth, both in Pigeon Forge and the department, came technology changes. Forty years ago there were no cell phones, patrol cars didn't have computers and the only video cameras available at the time were huge.

"If somebody, you made an arrest or had something stolen or made a report because of damages, it was all written. Now, everything is on computers. We have computers in cars. That's just the way of the world,"
said Baldwin.

The city of Pigeon Forge hopes to name a new police chief before Baldwin's last day, saying it's time his wife Debbie gets his full attention.

"We're going to spend more time together, maybe do some traveling,"
he said.

Baldwin's last day as chief of the Pigeon Forge Police Department will be February 2.