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First Responder of the Week: Chief Rob Hickman

The Port Clinton Police Chief will be retiring after nearly 40 years on the force
Published: Jun. 21, 2021 at 11:31 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 21, 2021 at 11:32 PM EDT
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PORT CLINTON, Ohio (WTVG) - After nearly 40 years of serving the Port Clinton Police Department, Chief Robert Hickman is hanging his hat and retiring from the force. “You’re never ready to retire,” said Hickman. “I assumed I was ready up until this last year, and I didn’t realize how crazy it was going to be to get everything in line.”

Hickman graduated from the academy in 1981, and got hired to work with the Port Clinton Police Department part-time. By 1988 he was working full-time on the midnight shift.

In 1989 there was a case that changed his path: he was involved in a pursuit where the male suspect crashed his vehicle and ran on foot. The responding officers eventually found the suspect, but it sparked something in Hickman. He approached his chief at the time, and said ‘there has to be a way to track suspects down without putting the lives of multiple officers in jeopardy.’ That started the conversation about adding a police K9 to the department. “Of course we didn’t have to budget for it,” said Hickman. “[The chief at the time] goes ‘if you can raise the money, by all means we’ll make it happen.’ I tasked the community with what I wanted to do, and I was able to raise almost $18,000 in the matter of a month.”

There have been five K9′s in Port Clinton. Hickman trained four of them: Donnie, Brett, Kazon and Barry. Spike is the department’s current K9, who has been trained by a different handler. Through Hickman’s K9 work, he became a nationally recognized master trainer. Not everybody likes the police, but they like dogs,” said Hickman. “The fact that we’ve been able to sway some people to come up and talk to us about police dogs, and touch our youth, you can’t put a price tag on that.”

By 2011, Hickman was promoted to Chief of Police. He says becoming chief was never in his master plan. Besides his K9 work, Chief Hickman says one of the things he’ll be most remembered for is the Harley Dilly case. “I’m sure everybody’s going to know me because of the Harley incident,” said Chief Hickman. “The community -- even though that was a really low point in my career -- we were able to give the family closure.”

Chief Hickman says its the community that’s kept him going all these years. “We have a great community,” said Hickman. “We may not always get along, but when we have a crisis, the whole community is behind us, stepping up. And that’s the part I’m going to miss. Just the interaction with the community. But I will have it as Rob, but not the chief.”

The chief is also extremely appreciative of the entire Port Clinton Police force that’s helped him along the way. “I’m not patting myself on the back, because it took the team,” added Hickman. “It took everybody getting ownership of the department. We have great employees. They may not get along all the time. I kind of feel like their uncle, but we get the job done.”

Chief Hickman’s last day with the department is June 28, 2021, with his last call at 3:00pm. Dave Scott is his successor, and will be sworn in June 28 at 8:00am inside city council chambers.

”I’m leaving it in very good hands,” said Hickman. “I have no regrets, but it’s time for me to move on.”

As part of his “retirement package,” Hickman will spend half of the year working in Pennsylvania helping train dogs. The other half of the year will be spent with his family, and getting some quality time with his eight grandkids.

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