GALION — Galion Police Chief Brian Saterfield has retired after nearly 17 years leading the department.
Saterfield was appointed chief of police in September of 2004, joining the Galion Police Department from the Marion Police Department, where he worked for 13-1/2 years. His successor as chief of GPD is Lt. Marc Rodriguez, who was sworn in on Friday.
Saterfield was hired during a time when the city was in a period of fiscal emergency and has served through the ups and downs the community and the department have experienced. He even served in a dual capacity when he was called upon to assume the role of city manager for about a nine-month span in 2006.
“I came in right at the beginning of the fiscal emergency here in Galion and our department along with the rest of the city faced the struggles of trying to deal with it, come to grips with it, and figuring out how to recover,” Saterfield said. “That was the first hurdle. There were also some trust issues with the police department that had to be worked out. We here have worked extremely hard over the past 16-plus years to gain and maintain the trust of the citizens of Galion that we serve. And I think we’ve attained that.”
To illustrate the progress GPD has made in its efforts to build a strong rapport with the community, Saterfield shared some of the contents of a farewell email he sent to all police department staff on Thursday.
“I told our department members in an email that I walk around every day and somebody tells me how proud they are or how happy they are with our department and how well we treat people,” he said. “And that’s a clear reflection of the job they do day in and day out, out there, one on one with the public. I told them, ‘I get the pats on the back, but it’s you guys who are the ones responsible for the success. It’s not me.’ … I couldn’t be more proud of where our department sits today in the eyes of the community. We’ve done a lot of good stuff and I think that will continue. The leadership that is here is very strong and I believe that the community will continue to support and appreciate the work that our guys do.”
Mayor Tom O’Leary paid tribute to Saterfield and the police department in a video posted to The City of Galion Facebook page and YouTube account.
“In this day and age, it’s pretty remarkable where there’s so much criticism of law enforcement and the police, my strong impression is that the Galion Police Department are appreciated and held in high esteem … by all of the law-abiding public and, gosh, even some of the not-so-law-abiding public,” O’Leary said. “I think that’s really quite a commentary. That really starts at the top and sort of radiates through the department. While you never have a perfect police department, I’m certainly glad that it’s in the shape that it is as Brian hands it off to his successor.
“You really look for areas of improvement that are fine-tuning, and I don’t see a great need for overhaul. All of that is really a reflection of the way that Brian has provided leadership over the years he’s been here.”
O’Leary encouraged local residents to express their appreciation to Saterfield for his service to the community when they see him around town.
“Thank him for giving 17 outstanding years of public service to Galion,” O’Leary said. “The safety that we enjoy here in this community is a tribute largely to his leadership and his current and past department. Tell the chief he’s done a great job and wish him well in the future.”
Saterfield said he has “no direct plans” for his retirement at this point, beyond spending time with family.
“I’m going to take the summer and fall off,” he said. “Certainly, I’m going to continue to officiate volleyball. I plan on being on the golf course, doing some fishing, spending some time watching my son play baseball, and just kind of enjoying life for a while.”
One thing Saterfield said he is sure of, he will not become a couch potato in retirement.
“I’m quite certain my wife will not put up with me sitting around the house too much,” he laughed. “She works from home and she’s made it very clear that I’m not going to be sitting around and watching TV while she’s working on the computer.”