By Rosemary K. Otzman
Belleville Police Chief Gene Taylor attended the March 11 workshop meeting of the Sumpter Township Board of Trustees to bid the township farewell and to thank it for its help.
“Instead of sending you folks a letter, I thought I’d come in person,” said Chief Taylor, who is retiring from his police position on March 28 after almost 37 years of service to the city.
He said in 1977 he started his police work with the City of Belleville and his first run was to assist Sumpter at Willow and Sumpter roads, along with Van Buren Township and the Sheriff’s Department.
“Our old Chevy stopped running and I stepped into a deep ditch,” Chief Taylor recalled, noting VBT officers picked up him and his partner. He said there were four police departments working together that day.
Chief Taylor said he has been married to a Sumpter girl for 36 years and she has enlightened him about Sumpter.
Taylor said he attends the township’s Family Day functions and, “I saw a community that is unique” with the families coming out together.
He said whenever he asked for assistance for Belleville, Sumpter Township was always there to help.
Taylor said in the early days he used to wear a robin’s egg blue helmet and Sumpter’s former Police Chief Clinton Brown laughed his head off the first time he saw him wearing it.
“I learned a lot from Chief Brown and Chief Pierce. They were always there to help,” Taylor said.
Chief Taylor recalled that in July 1985 he lost a good friend when “three drunk drivers caused carnage.”
He referred to the on-duty death of Sumpter Officer Roy Graham, with whom he used to play basketball. He said Officer Graham’s former partner now is ready to retire from another department.
“I want to thank the Sumpter Township residents for allowing me to assist the Police Department and sometimes the Fire Department,” Taylor said.
“They are a great bunch of people and uphold the true spirit of being a police officer.
“God bless you all,” he said to a standing ovation.
Sumpter Police Chief Jim Pierce came to the lectern to say, “I’ve only know him 10 years, but I can say he’s an honest cop and always has been. An honest cop!”
There were many damp eyes in the meeting room as the board moved on to other business.
By Rosemary K. Otzman