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Published: 2/26/2004

Perrysburg: New police chief knows city well

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Richard Gilts has served since Nelson Evans retired. Richard Gilts has served since Nelson Evans retired.
ZAPOTOSKY Enlarge

Perrysburg s new police chief is a prime example of “moving up in the ranks.”

When first hired by the city, Richard Gilts ticketed motorists who failed to click coins into parking meters in a timely fashion. Today he s overseeing the construction of a $6 million police station.

Mr. Gilts, who was named the city s police chief last week, applied to the police division in 1976 while he was still completing the academy. His primary responsibilities as a new Perrysburg police officer centered on traffic and parking enforcement in downtown, but he also served as a dispatcher. He started road patrol duties later that year, and he s been heading up the career ladder here since then.

As he s moved up, the police division has filled out - a main reason behind the need for a new police station.

There were seven police officers when the former police station was built in 1965. The staff had expanded to 13 officers by the time Mr. Gilts joined the force. Now the police division s roster stands at 31. Plus, the staff includes an animal control officer, seven communication officers, and a secretary for the chief.

About 15 years ago the city started looking at options to expand the police station, he said. Last summer the cramped old building was demolished to make room for the new station.

Chief Gilts, 49, who served as acting chief since the retirement last September of Chief Nelson Evans, said the level of activity is accelerating “as we get closer to moving into the new facility.”

According to projections, the new station could be open as early as July.

With the additional space in the new building, “we re going to institute a roll call,” the chief said. There wasn t enough room in the former building to gather the officers in one spot. The roll call, he said, will allow him to “gain better coordination of day-to-day operations.”

The new building also will feature a secure area that will give the officers a safer means to manage those under arrest, he said. It will be safer for the officers and safer for the community, he said, noting that previously, prisoners were processed basically in an open office area, a situation that created a potential for injuries and escapes.

Eventually an indoor firing range will be added, and there will be a training area and room for future growth. The police division is temporarily located in the basement of the municipal building.

In addition to his police duties, Chief Gilts will continue his active role in the community.

His involvement in the community is one reason why Councilman Maria Ermie, chairman of council s personnel committee, is pleased to have Mr. Gilts on board as the new chief.

“Rick Gilts has 27 years experience in the city. He knows the city well, and he has dedicated a lot of his time and effort in volunteer efforts with various organizations,” she said. “I believe that he is quite aware of the needs and desires of the community, and he has the skills and desires to meet those needs.”

A native of Toledo, Chief Gilts married a Perrysburg resident whose family has been a part of the community for generations. “We re very attached to this community,” he said. He and his wife Mary Beth have two daughters and a son -Tara, a sophomore at Ohio University; Rikki, a senior at Perrysburg High School, and Jaryd, an eighth-grade pupil at Perrysburg Junior High School.

“I have always been active in the community,” he said. It has been an asset to his career, he said, because he has met people from “other walks of life.” He has expanded his contacts in the community through coaching basketball, softball, and soccer, through church and school activities, and through such organizations as the Rotary club.

“I know people on a first-name basis. I am not just a police officer in a uniform, not just someone driving in a police car,” he said, adding that he encourages police officers to be active in the community.

Although he has learned a lot through a variety of educational opportunities through the years, Chief Gilts said that his friends, family members, and other officers have been a major influence in his life since his days tending to parking meters. “Without their support throughout my career, I would not have this opportunity today.”



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