• 66°

IPD chief ready to ride into sunset

Independence Day will indeed be a day of liberation for Ironton Police Chief Bill Garland - he may not get fireworks or a marching band, but Garland will get his independence from the daily grind.

After 28 years on the force and 4 years at its helm, Garland has submitted his intention to retire, effective July 4.

"I have enjoyed my 28 years here," he said. "I've been pleased to serve the public. Police work is in my blood and always will be, but I'm 62 and to me, that's retirement age. I've got grandkids now and I would like to spend some time with them."

Garland began his career in law enforcement in 1967, after a 4-year stint with the U.S. Marines. Facing a long waiting list for a job with his the state police in his native Pennsylvania, Garland opted to cross the border and join the Ohio State Highway Patrol. He wound up at the Ironton Post. He joined the city police department June 17, 1977.

"Believe it or not, at that time, the city police made more money than the state patrol," Garland said. "Three years later the city went bankrupt. But I had already bought a farm (in Decatur Township) and had settled here and there was talk about transferring me to Columbus so I joined the city and came up through the ranks as a patrolman, then sergeant, captain and then chief."

In accepting Garland's resignation, Ironton Mayor John Elam praised the retiring chief for his dedication to the city.

"It's been an honor for me to work with Bill Garland," Elam said. "He's a good man who has been concerned not only with the safety of the citizens of Ironton but his officers as well."

What does Garland see as the biggest issue facing his successor?

"The budget," he said without hesitation. "We've got manpower problems. We just don't have the manpower we need. We need a minimum of four more officers and the city just can't afford any more right now. How the department goes will depend on how the city goes in the next six months or a year," Garland said.

Since the police department is a civil service organization, the next chief will be chosen from the four men who now have the rank of captain.

Jerry Leach, Jim Carey, Dan Johnson and Chris Bowman are all eligible to take the civil service exam if they choose to do so. The vacancy in the top spot will also leave open a captain's position, as well as a sergeant and patrolman as officers are moved up the ladder within the department.

Elam said he has contacted the state's civil service board and asked them to schedule the exams for these posts as soon as possible. He said an interim chief will likely be named to fill the chief's chair until the results of the exams determine who will fill the position permanently.