BLUFFTON — Bluffton Police Chief Rick Skilliter will officially no longer be police chief on Thursday because of his retirement.
However, just a few days before, he was able to participate in the family name continuing on the force.
Skilliter officially pinned his son Braden Skilliter at Monday’s Village Council meeting after Braden Skilliter was approved onto the village police force in a unanimous vote. Rick Skilliter said he considered it an honor that his son was joining the force.
“I worked with a great group of people here in Bluffton,” the chief said. “I am fortunate my son will also.”
Rick Skilliter said it has been a great 27 years with the force, and he is glad to see his son following in his footsteps.
“You can’t make everybody happy all the time,” Rick Skilliter said, “but all in all, it has been a great community to serve in.”
The chief said he remembers tense moments on the force. Some of the more memorable included a bomb threat at Bluffton University his first day on the job. Only 13 days into the job, he was involved in a shooting incident with a robbery suspect at the Circle K service station. The suspect was killed, and two officers and a civilian were also injured. He also recalled the Bluffton University bus crash on March 2, 2007, when seven occupants were killed and 29 survived during a trip transporting the university’s baseball team. He also recalled helping out during the snowstorms and the floods.
Ironically, it was during a weather event that Braden Skilliter decided to follow in his father’s footsteps. During Braden Skilliter’s sophomore year, his father incorporated his son’s help during a flood.
“He had me go to the EMS office and answer phones for people that needed help,” Braden Skilliter said. “I enjoyed it, I liked helping people. At that point I knew it was what I wanted to do.”
Braden Skilliter graduated from the Rhodes State College Police Academy. At 19, he is getting started even earlier than his father did. He did not dispel of the possibility of another Skilliter maybe being chief some day.
“At this point, I am just enjoying the moment of becoming a police officer,” Braden Skilliter said. “But who knows, we will see.”
“I think in the long run he would like being chief someday,” Rick Skilliter said.
Rick Skilliter said the biggest differences his son will see starting on the force compared to when he started are the technology advances in law enforcement. He said he enjoyed his time on the force.
“It is humbling when a community trusts me enough and invites me into their life, trusting me to help solve their dilemma, whatever it may be,” Rick Skilliter said.
Reach Lance Mihm at 567-242-0409 or at Twitter @LanceMihm.