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Ironton police chief to retire

Ironton police will say goodbye soon to Rodney McFarland – chief, friend and co-worker.

Saturday, January 13, 2001

Ironton police will say goodbye soon to Rodney McFarland – chief, friend and co-worker.

McFarland, whose career spans 42 years in law enforcement, announced last week his retirement from providing community protection.

Official retirement won’t come until March 1, but it’s a day that "will come soon enough," the chief said.

"I am glad to have served the people," he said. "I’m glad the people of Ironton have allowed me to serve them. I just think it’s time to retire I think it’s time to move on."

The end of such a lengthy law enforcement career marks the completion of personal achievement, he said.

"When you talk to just about anyone who’s been involved in police work once you’ve been involved for a while, you find there’s not a lot of money involved, but there is a certain level of personal satisfaction you have to achieve," he said. "I’m there. I feel I’ve ridden it out and I’m to that point."

The 1958 Ironton High School graduate’s career began shortly after he finished school.

"I began in August of 1958 with the (U.S. Air Force) Air Police Combat Defense and Investigations," he said. "I spent eight years with the Air Police. From November of 1966 to now, I’ve served with the Ironton Police Department."

Years of climbing the ranks from a patrol officer to shift captain, then finishing his career as a 10-year chief, will leave a lasting impression, McFarland said.

"I was on the (Ironton) force one month to the day when (police) Chief Gene Markel was killed during a jail break," he said, as he looked off to remember.

"That happened Dec. 2, 1966. One patrolman, Charlie Jiles, was shot and paralyzed for the rest of his life. Over the years, I’ve seen officers shot, stabbed, beat, ran over, dragged down the street by cars A lot of things have happened."

But, the law enforcement job is not as bad as it once was in Ironton, he added.

"When I started here, there were 37 retail liquor outlets in town because the surrounding area was a dry area," McFarland said. "Things got better when Ashland started selling."

Looking back, many things have changed since his career began, he added.

"The biggest change has been the public’s attitude toward police," he said. "It has changed dramatically from life in the 1960s to the present probably due to a lot of positive police shows on television. It’s presented in a more positive light."

Though he has no immediate plans following retirement, he said he’s considering a teaching career.

"I am considering doing some substitute teaching in law enforcement," he said. "But I’ve not pursued that yet."