MASON — A familiar face in the Bend Area will be leading the Mason Police Department as its chief.
Rich Gilkey, who previously served as the chief of police in the Town of New Haven for six years, will now be at the helm of Mason’s department.
Though the new chief was hired as a full-time employee, he will also remain in his job as a maintenance mechanic/welder at the ICL-IP America, Inc. plant in Gallipolis Ferry. Gilkey said he will either be at the police office or check in there daily.
Gilkey and his wife, Julie, reside in the Mason area. He completed courses at West Virginia Tech, and has also served as an interim police chief for the Town of Hartford, and as a correctional officer at the Lakin Correctional Center.
The new chief said he hopes to bring back a sense of community to the police department.
“I want day-to-day, full-face presence with the businesses and people of Mason,” Gilkey said. “Being a small-town police department isn’t just about writing tickets.”
He added one way he would like to do that is by initiating monthly meetings with business leaders and the community. Gilkey said he wants to welcome their input and is anxious to see what they would like from a police department.
He stated he will reinstitute business checks at the Mason stores, having officers check regularly to make sure doors are secured and there is no activity taking place during hours when the businesses are closed.
“I want to be a liaison between the police department, the council, and the community,” Gilkey said.
The chief said he will also be working on the department’s relationships with other nearby police agencies, such as Pomeroy, Middleport, Hartford and New Haven.
And Gilkey already has more help than he is accustomed to. While serving as chief in New Haven, he was a one-man department. He now leads two full-time and two part-time officers, and hopes to hire more.
Full-time Mason officers include Tyler Dewees and Kendall Roush. Working part-time are Matt McCormick and Matt Stewart. Gilkey said he would like to hire another full-time, or possibly two part-time officers, with council’s approval. Although keeping an open mind, and not discriminating, the chief said he would like to see a female officer in the Bend Area.
Gilkey said once his first community meeting is set, it will be made public for anyone interested to attend. To reach Gilkey for non-emergencies, or any member of the Mason Police Department, call 304-773-5201.
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing who can be reached at [email protected]