GEORGETOWN — After six-plus years with the Georgetown Police Department, Chief R.L. Hughes will be leaving in mid-November, placing an emphasis on completing his education.
“I have come to the point in my life where I am pursuing my doctorate degree, and I want to really focus in on that and get that wrapped up and finished,” said Chief Hughes on Wednesday. “It is just, I have been there for six-and-a-half years. We’ve accomplished a great deal. Team GPD has accomplished a great deal in six-and-a-half years. Maybe it is time to try something new.
“I don’t know what that ‘new’ is. I have no immediate plans. I just want to see what is out there and finish up my degree and move on.”
The chief’s last day with the department will be Nov. 12.
At the Oct. 13 meeting of the mayor and Town Council, officials “voted to form a search committee and look for a new chief. After that, we’ll do interviews and all,” said Mayor Bill West.
Chief Hughes said the 15-officer Georgetown PD is ready for “some new leadership. We’ve got new people coming in. We’re finishing up a hiring process now, and we’ll probably be bringing on six new police officers.”
Capt. Ralph Holm is the department’s deputy chief.
“There are certainly capable people at the police department in the interim to go ahead (and) be responsible for the agency. As the agency is responsible for itself, each of the members there will continue to do the right things at the right time,” Chief Hughes said. “That’s an exciting time for the agency, getting a lot of new folks on board. It just seemed to me to be the right time.”
The chief said he has not been pressured out of his position, adding that “my decision to leave was my decision totally.”
Following tenures with the Delaware State Police (March 1985 to July 2009) and the Delaware Department of Safety and Homeland Security (September 2009 to May 2015), Chief Hughes has held his current position since departing DSHS.
Also leaving GPD, on Oct. 15, was Detective Joey Melvin, a school resource officer for the Indian River School District.
Mr. Melvin is assuming the role of director of the Center for Safe Schools/Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit, a not-for-profit Pennsylvania agency geared to serve the needs of schools, students, families and communities.
Chief Hughes believes Georgetown has become more unified in recent years.
“Over the last couple of years, we have come together as a community and taken care of our neighbors through this pandemic. That has been huge. And you have to think about all of the things that were happening nationally, … some of the social issues going on in policing. Yet, our community stayed very strong, very engaged with one another,” he said.
“I think that is in large part because we respect one another and listen to one another. I think that really speaks volumes to the kind of relationships that the police department and the police officers have with the people of Georgetown.”
Grant funding brought to the department a victim services advocate, who joins a mental health clinician.
“That has been a really good project and (is) really showing great dividends,” said Chief Hughes.
In addition, he noted advancements in technology. “Increasing the number of cameras throughout the town, having cameras in police cars — which were always there in cars, but integrating those with body-worn cameras, so that now, our officers have additional cameras for collecting evidence,” he said.
“I have loved being at Georgetown. It has been wonderful to get to come home. I got to be reacquainted with old friends — I am from Georgetown — and I have made some new friends,” said Chief Hughes. “It has been great being in and serving in my hometown. I am forever humbled and appreciative of that honor to have done that.”