Sunday, February 04, 2001

New police chief finding his way

Retired Reading chief died suddenly

By David Eck
Enquirer Contributor

        READING — The thin black tape across his police chief's badge reminds Greg Hilling just how trying a new job can be. Chief Hilling, who recently was sworn in as Reading's police chief, is settling into his role, just not quite the way he had planned. A key resource is missing: the man who headed the department for the last 18 years.

        Chief Robert Huelsman announced retirement plans Jan. 5, and Chief Hilling was named as the next chief. But Chief Huelsman died unexpectedly the next day, taking with him the transition plans he and Chief Hilling, 46, had developed.

        “The plan was for me to start in the beginning of January and work with Bob for a month,” Chief Hilling said. “Instead of getting that transition period, I had none. I got thrown into the job and I'm still working through the mounds of paperwork trying to figure out how everything does work.”

        The new chief is also dealing with his officers' emotions over the death.

        “Nobody expected that,” Chief Hilling said. “All he had talked about the last couple of years was wanting to go out of here and have a job ... where he wasn't in charge of a lot of people. He wanted to spend more time with his grandchildren, his wife. It was just a shame.”

        But knowing the succes sion was already in place has helped, officials said.

        “(Chief Hilling) was very helpful organizing the last respects for Chief Huelsman and has moved into that position very quietly but effectively,” said Mayor Earl Schmidt. “It's going to be a challenge for Chief Hilling — a little more than he expected.”

        A native of nearby Wyoming, Chief Hilling spent more than 15 years as a police officer in Lockland before joining the Reading force in 1994. He started as a Cincinnati police cadet in the mid-1970s.


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