by Michael Salerno
For Hometown News
SOUTH DAYTONA - Police Chief Bill Hall will mark a milestone on Jan. 11, 2013 - 35 years to the date he began his law enforcement career.
He recently announced his plans to celebrate the occasion by retiring.
"I probably had the most rewarding career anyone could have," he said to city council members upon announcing his retirement. "Back in the '80s and '90s I wrote enough tickets to pay my own salary. I put bad guys in jail. I worked burglaries and suicides and homicides. I found lost kids and elderly folks."
Chief Hall, 54, a lifelong resident of the Daytona Beach area, has worked for the city's police department for 33 years and began his tenure as police chief in January 2005. Prior to his work in South Daytona, he was a police officer in Daytona Beach and Ponce Inlet. He is a graduate of the University of Central Florida and the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va.
In South Daytona, he is widely known for his visibility in the community. He greets students and parents as he patrols traffic at South Daytona Elementary School, cooks at the annual Citizens Alert barbecue and teaches firearm safety classes. The chief joked he's cooked enough barbecues to feed South Daytona twice over, and taught enough people how to use guns that he could staff a small army.
Chief Hall also said his achievements while leading the city's police department would not have been possible without the help of his colleagues.
"I have been blessed to work with some of the finest law enforcement personnel in the world, and many of them wear the same badge that I do," he said.
City Manager Joseph Yarbrough praised Chief Hall for his responsiveness in the community, saying he "gave 110 percent."
"There's probably not a more important position than police chief in the community," he said. "He's visible. He is the community."
He recalled a time in the late 1980s when union supporters picketed in front of City Hall as the city was evaluating labor contracts. That moment had significance to Mr. Yarbrough because Chief Hall was the leader of that protest. At that time neither would have expected they would come to trust and depend on each other in the future, Mr. Yarbrough said.
"I never would have thought that down the road I would come to depend on somebody as much as I have Chief Hall," he said.
One of Chief Hall's colleagues, police spokesman Lt. Ron Wright, said he was "buddies" with the chief ever since they were teenagers, bonding over their dreams to pursue careers in law enforcement. He said the chief has been dedicated to his police work for his whole life.
"During (Chief Hall's) lengthy career he consistently practiced true professionalism, all the while emphasizing integrity and high ethical standards," he said. "His leadership and expertise will be missed, and our department won't be the same without him."
Council members agreed.
Mayor George Locke gave his well wishes to Chief Hall while praising him for his commitment to his police work and his city.
"I'm very proud to have known you," he said to the chief. "You've done a fantastic job in the community."
The City Council is expected to consider a process on finding a new police chief in the coming weeks.