And it's a good thing he did.
Some two-decades later, he would become police chief. Evansville's top cop says he's made tremendous progress in his first year as chief but don't think for a second he's complacent.
Tucked away in the Civic Center is a room few will ever see and a conversation few will ever hear.
It's a conversation between the department's past, former Chief Brad Hill, and present, Chief Billy Bolin.
The past year, Chief Bolin's first year, has been full of moments like this.
"I think in the back of my head, five years ago, it was a long range goal to hope to be here some day," said Chief Bolin. "I had no idea I'd get here so quick."
It came in a flurry of applause a little over a year ago. The appointment came quickly, Bolin says, but it's due in large part to careful, thoughtful, and methodical planning.
"I had developed a plan and put it on paper and for months I sat and thought what would I do with this department if I could," said Chief Bolin. "I think that's what helped me get here. I'm proud to say when I look back at that plan, I've implemented everything I said would and tried to do."
You could call Chief Bolin a cop's cop. He started on the streets but never really left them.
That's where his plan began.
"I've changed a lot and I've heard some officers say they've seen more change in the past year than in their whole career," said Chief Bolin.
In his first month at the helm, Chief Bolin drastically changed the department's hierarchy and flow.
Traditionally, one lieutenant would look after each sector and sergeants would fill in on the other shifts. That would create a logjam in decision making.
Now, one lieutenant looks over the entire city during any given shift. The change gives supervisors autonomy, efficiency and flexibility.
Chief Bolin says it allows him to look at the bigger picture and perhaps a bigger issue.
"Improving relations with the black community, that was high on my list," said Chief Bolin. "I think we've helped a little bit. I think there's a lot to go there. I don't think it's just in Evansville, Indiana. It's a nationwide epidemic because of the sins of the past that we've inherited."
A plan on paper can't fix that. Progress, he says, comes with within the department and community.
"I can tell you in January, we're going to have two black officers hired," said Chief Bolin. "I can't remember the last time where we had two in the same group."
"One of the things I've been open about acknowledging is when blacks don't respect police, they don't want to be one. That's where we're trying to close the gap. If they see police in a positive light, it's something they want to do more."
In the end it comes down to empathy, Chief Bolin says. If you can understand the past, you can build a better future.
And that just doesn't apply to race relations. It also plays a role in department morale, another one of Chief Bolin's focuses.
"I thought by improving morale, it gives citizens better treatment from the police," said Chief Bolin. "What I said earlier in the year and i still believe, is if we have an officer that's in a bad mood, he's going to treat people bad when he deals with them."
"I know at the six month mark, we compared complaints, both formal and informal, to the first six months of last year and we cut complaints in half."
To boost morale, Chief Bolin re-instated the take-home car program and placed a greater emphasis on the department's history.
The new police chief also started an internal newsletter, True Blue News. But on the front of the newsletter is the hand-drawn contribution that came from former Chief Hill.
"Little kids dream of being police officers, adults watch shows about police officers," said Chief Bolin. "It's not just a job, it's a career people look up to. I think sometimes our guys have forgotten that so we've been trying to build up the morale around the place to get the guys feeling better."
Bolin went from the streets to a supervisor to a suit. But the new chief's corner office is just down the hall from former Chief Hill.
As different as they are, they still call each other 'chief.'
Chief Bolin also touted the success of The Guardian. The crime prevention tool, he says, has shut down problem areas the last several months.
He hopes to secure the grant money for two additional units next year.