Archive for Thursday, March 25, 2004

Basehor police chief retiring

March 25, 2004

Basehor police chief Vince Weston has worked in law enforcement for 35 years, but it's memories from the last 15 which resonate with pride and now, a touch of sadness.

Weston, the city's police chief since 1989, announced this week he will retire, effective April 2, for health reasons.

Leaving Basehor, a place Weston calls his home away from home, will not be easy, the police chief said. During his tenure in Basehor, he's grown more than fond of the community and its residents.

"Basehor is my town," he said. "This was my first civilian law enforcement job, and it was a great place to be. I just never wanted to leave here."

"We are very fortunate we have a good town and great people that care about each other."

Sgt. Martin Cigich will replace Weston as interim police chief. Cigich, a veteran of the city's police department for 18 years, speaks highly of Weston, a man who is not only his colleague but also a friend.

"He's always stood behind his officers and supported them in enforcing the law," Cigich said. "He's always backed us up and emphasized professionalism and courtesy to the public."

"That's something I'll always remember: when we were ridiculed by the public or other departments, he always stood up for us and supported us. He always told us to be professional and courteous, and he always had a big concern for his officers, professionally and personally."

Other employees at City Hall, even those outside the police department, voiced similar sentiments about Weston.

Mary Ann Mogle, Basehor city clerk, has worked for the city for 20 years, the last 15 with Weston. She said he's become like family.

"He has become like a brother to me," Mogle said. "No one at City Hall is going to miss him more than I will. I know this retirement will be extremely difficult on him since he considers Basehor his home and the residents and co-workers as his family. His absence here will be a huge void in our daily lives."

Weston hired Traci Myracle as police clerk four years ago. Myracle said the police chief has always placed public safety above all else.

"From the beginning, I could tell this man took great pride in this city and in the daily operations of the department," she said. "He planned not only for the current day but looked forward to what the future would hold for the city and what needs the department would have to provide to ensure the safety of the citizens.

"Working for Chief Weston has been an honor and he will be deeply missed."

Much of the affection city staffers feel for Weston stems not only from his personality but from respect for the work he has done with the police department. After 15 years of his stewardship, the department looks as night from day from the one Weston began with in 1989.

At that time, the county sheriff's department patrolled Basehor routinely, because the city's police department had only a few part-time officers and two police vehicles.

Today, the department has six full-time and six part-time officers, a fleet of police vehicles and a plethora of new equipment including safety vests for each officer and in-vehicle computers for squad cars.

And, though the city's boundaries and population keep expanding, Basehor routinely features one of the lowest crime rates in the area.

Modestly, Weston accepts very little credit, instead dishing out praise to others for his department's achievements during his leadership and oversight.

"The citizens of this town really look after each other and that always helps," he said. "And the city and governing body have been very supportive of vehicles and equipment purchases when the money has been available."

Also, firefighters from the Fairmount Township Fire Department and officers from nearby cities have been instrumental in aiding the police department during critical times.

"Without them we would have had some difficult times," he said. "When we called for assistance they were always there."

Although reluctant to bring attention to himself, Weston routinely advised the public on safety matters during times that are statistically high with crime rates.

Protecting the public was always his top priority as a police officer, and that remained so with his final comments to a reporter this week.

"There are a lot of (great memories) from this job, but I would say the most satisfying was working with the public and the support of the community and organizations," he said. "Oh, and make sure you remind everyone that spring is here and to be aware; kids are out on the streets more. Drive carefully and buckle up."

Commenting has been disabled for this item.