Police Chief Bryant announces retirement
by Cris Ritchie
HAZARD — The Hazard Police Department gained two new officers during a meeting with the city commission on Monday, but also learned that longtime Chief Ronnie Bryant will be retiring by the end of January, ending a career in law enforcement that spans three decades.
Bryant took over the reigns of the Hazard Police Department in 2001 following the retirement of former chief Rod Maggard. Since his promotion to chief, Bryant has overseen a lot of progress in the department, including its initial accreditation in 2007.
While formally announcing his retirement to the city commission on Monday, Bryant thanked the commission for its support, and also extended his gratitude to past city officials serving when he became chief 11 years ago, including the late commissioners Ben Roll and Herman Maggard, as well as the late Mayor Bill Gorman.
“It has been a distinct honor to serve as chief since 2001,” Bryant said in his official written notification submitted on Monday. “I thank our current and previous city officials for their cooperation and support. I am also appreciative of the inspiration I received from my family, the support from all city employees, especially members of the police department, community citizens, businesses, county, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.”
The commission will now be tasked with hiring a new police chief, and will be accepting applications for potential candidates to head the department.
In other business, the commission approved the hire of Arthur Gayheart and Preston Napier as patrolmen. Gayheart had previously served as a dispatcher with HPD for the past three years, and will be required to complete law enforcement training at the criminal justice academy at Eastern Kentucky University. Napier was an officer with the Hyden Police Department upon his hire with HPD.
Also on Monday, Chief Bryant awarded Det. Adam Baker with the Meritorious Service Award for his work in the past several months. Det. Baker’s work led to arrests in several theft cases, including one in which a couple was alleged to have stolen more than $45,000 in surveying equipment. Baker also aided in another case which led to the arrest of a person on embezzlement charges, and arrested two people in a chain of thefts from local businesses in Hazard.
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