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Gleason hires new police officers

Gleason hires new police officers
Gleason hires new police officers

NEW HIRES — Hired by the Gleason Police Department Tuesday night were (from left) Adam Ledezma, David Sliger and Jim Derrington.

JIM MANSFIELD

Special to th Press

GLEASON — Mayor Diane Poole called the board of aldermen together for a special meeting Tuesday night to hire two full-time and one-part time police officers.

The board voted unanimously to hire Adam Ledezma and David Sliger as full-time officers and Jim Derrington Jr. as a part-time officer.

The hires will put the Gleason Police Department back at full strength, after two officers recently left: one resigned, the other was fired with cause.

Police Chief Jeff Hazelwood said Ledezma had applied for a job a year ago and had ridden with Gleason officers. Hazelwood said Ledezma was well-liked by other officers and is a certified police officer.

“Adam was selected from 40 applicants and did an excellent job during the interview process,” Hazelwood said.

Sliger has more than 13 years of experience with the University of Tennessee at Martin police department, Hazelwood said.

“David has been working part-time here in Gleason,” Hazelwood said. “He’s ready for Gleason if Gleason’s ready for David.”

Derrington, a Navy veteran with prior police training and service, needs to take 80 hours of in-service training and can then work up to 20 hours per week, Hazelwood said.

All three candidates had successfully completed all phases of the hiring process, including initial applications, psychological tests, written tests and extensive interviews.

Hilliard promoted: Police officer John Hilliard was promoted to the rank of sergeant with the department. The move was approved at Gleason’s regular meeting Feb. 14.

“This doesn’t include a pay increase,” Hazelwood told the board. “John’s been here for more than three years now. Every day he tells me how much he likes being an officer and working in Gleason. We want to recognize his dedication and service.”

Hilliard said the most satisfying part of his job is communicating with Gleason residents – especially children. He is specifically assigned to drug law enforcement as a K-9 narcotics officer and uses a police drug dog in his work.

“I take Hunter (his dog) to school and show the kids how he works,” Hilliard said. “And that dog knows the difference between work and play. When I put on my belt, boots and uniform, he’s ready to work.”

He said the most difficult part of his work is dealing with death or seriously injured people.

“About four years ago, I went on a sheriff’s call in Sharon,” he recalled. “A little boy had gotten himself tangled in some rope and accidentally hung himself. Things like that – you never forget.”

Hilliard said he knows his work is important to the safety of the community.

“If we’re going to keep our kids off drugs, we have to work toward arresting the people who grow, manufacture and sell them,” he said. “It’s a safety issue more than anything. We don’t want the accidents and overdoses that drugs and alcohol can cause, especially for young people.”

Hilliard is concerned about the safety of his fellow officers and his own safety. He said teamwork plays a vital role.

 “When we get together to discuss an arrest, it’s planned as much possible, down to the last detail,” he said. “Everybody wants to go home safe and uninjured when it’s all over.”

Hilliard said Hazelwood and Assistant Police Chief David King are “two of the best officers I’ve worked with. This is more than just another department – we’re a brotherhood.”

Hilliard said one of his main goals is to help young people, especially teens, because they’re just getting started in life. He said he had convinced some people to stay out of trouble by staying away from drug abuse.

He worked in the heating and air conditioning business for 12 years at UT Martin before working a two or three year stint as a deputy with the Weakley County Sheriff’s Department.

“I don’t have any regrets about getting into law enforcement – in fact, I’m working toward my bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at Bethel University in McKenzie,” he said. “I graduated from the Tennessee Law Enforcement Academy in Donaldson, so I just need about 19 more months to finish.”

Hilliard grew up in Dresden and graduated from Dresden High School. He has a son, Alex, 19, who is a mixed martial arts fighter.

Hilliard plans to continue his work in law enforcement with Gleason.

“Maybe someday I’ll run for sheriff,” he said. “It’s possible.”

For now, though, Hilliard said he appreciates the close working relationship he has with Poole, Hazelwood and King, as well as Gleason residents.

Published WCP 2-21-13


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