By Rick Palsgrove
Former Groveport Police Chief Ralph Portier passed away Dec. 31 after an illness.
“Chief Portier was a very special person,” said Groveport Mayor Lance Westcamp. “He was a great leader, mentor, friend and a very caring person. He was all about family and community. The Groveport Police Department is so respected because of the leadership skills Chief Portier brought with him. He never met a stranger. Chief Portier always said he was truly blessed to work in Groveport. As mayor of the city, we were the ones who were truly blessed to have him as our police chief.”
Portier began his service as police chief in Groveport in 2009 and he retired in April 2021.
“Chief Ralph Portier was an individual who believed in making sure everyone he came in contact with should be treated with fairness and a smile, whether in a general encounter, or in our official capacity as a police officer,” said current Groveport Police Chief Casey Adams. “There was not a day that went by that our officers and city officials did not hear how a citizen or visitor to our community somehow knew Chief Portier from his days as a public servant in Guernsey County, to his time as a police officer and supervisor in the city of Pickerington, and then the countless individuals and police officers he touched through his instructional training throughout Ohio on taking care of ourselves in the policing community.”
Adams said the Groveport Police Department and the city of Groveport lost a true ambassador of the community.
“Chief Portier invested each and every day of his service to our community to making sure people came first, and he always spoke how Groveport welcomed him with open arms from day one and he felt like this was his home and not just a place to work,” said Adams.
Groveport City Councilman and former Groveport police officer Shawn Cleary recalls he and Westcamp interviewing Portier for the job as police chief.
“I remember feeling right away he was a perfect fit for the Groveport,” said Cleary. “His commitment ot the citizens of Groveport went beyond expectations. He quickly earned the trust of the citizens and officers. This is a tragic loss for the community and the Portier family.”
Adams said Portier never made any excuses to take time away from his job during his health struggles.
“He showed up each and every day giving it his all, and he made sure that his officers came first,” said Adams. “Even after he retired earlier in 2021, he still loved to stop by the police department, send out a text or email, or just make a phone call and tell us how he loved each and everyone of us. He always asked how we were doing personally, he wanted to make sure we watched out for each other, and that we took time each and every day to have quality family time.”
When he was hired in 2009, Portier was only the fifth police chief in the town’s history as prior to 1966 Groveport was served by a single town marshal. In 1966 Groveport created its own police department and its first chief was Al Whipple, who served until 1981. The other police chiefs were: Roger Adams from 1981 to 2001; Timothy Carney from 2002-03; Bary Murphy from 2003-06; and Gary York from 2006-09.