By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Police Chief Ralph Portier announced he will retire as of Aug. 18.
In his letter to Mayor Lance Westcamp, Portier wrote, “I am very proud of the accomplishments the members have achieved and, even more importantly, the wonderful opportunity, you gave me to lead such a great team (of police officers). I plan on a smooth transition, as you make the final decision in my replacement.”
By announcing his retirement well in advance, Westcamp said Portier provided him with plenty of time to find his replacement and make the transition to a new chief.
“Ideally, I want to have the new chief sworn in prior to Chief Portier’s last day of service so that he has the opportunity to assist with the transition,” said Westcamp.
Regarding the search for a new police chief, Westcamp said, “I believe it is always necessary to look internally first for viable candidates. As such, I’ll do that.”
Westcamp said he is looking for someone who has extensive training in police department operations, command structure, and organizational policies.
“In addition, the candidate must be able to relate well and be visible to the community,” said Westcamp.
Westcamp praised Portier’s service to Groveport.
“Chief Portier has done an excellent job with community relations,” said Westcamp. “He has an open door policy for his officers and residents. As a result, the Groveport Police Department has an excellent rapport with the community.”
Portier began his service as police chief in Groveport in 2009. He is 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.
In his letter to Westcamp, Portier said it was a difficult decision to retire.
“But I know it is best for the agency, the city of Groveport and the residents,” wrote Portier.
In an interview with the Messenger, Portier said he decided to retire for health reasons.
“Since I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and other surgical events this past year, my medical and physical abilities have forced me to make the decision a little earlier than I wanted, but I will not jeopardize the officers or the community by not being able to the job I was asked to do,” said Portier.
When asked how he thinks Groveport has changed during his time as police chief, Portier said, “I believe the community has banded together and thanks to Mayor Westcamp and Groveport City Council the ‘home town’ feel has not left”.
He said the Groveport Police Department banded together to achieve the goal of serving the public and the officers have proven their dedication to the residents of the city.
During his time as chief, Portier has seen crime in Groveport change as the city grows.
“Thefts are still the number one crime, but we are starting to see more violent crimes and physical assaults,” said Portier.
When asked how he will spend retirement, Portier said, “Unfortunately, my health will limit what I do, but I have five grandkids and six great grandkids, as well as spending a little time with my daughter.”
Upon hearing about Portier’s retirement announcement, Groveport City Council President Jean Ann Hilbert said, “Thank you Chief Portier for all you have done for the city.”