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Covington Police, Fire Departments See Retirements, Promotions

The Covington Police and Fire departments named new assistant chiefs as part of a series of promotions.

Police Capt. Justin Wietholter recently was promoted to assistant chief of police to replace the recently retired Pat Swift, and Fire Lt. Gary Rucker was promoted to assistant chief of emergency medical service, replacing the recently retired David Geiger.

“While we hate to say ‘good-bye’ to so many dedicated officers who spent a good part of their lives with the Covington Police Department keeping the residents of the city safe, the good news is that we have some skilled and professional officers who are stepping up into bigger roles to continue the mission,” Police Chief Rob Nader said.

Fire Chief Mark Pierce echoed that thought, saying the recent retirees in his department had well over 150 years of service in Covington alone. “So that’s a lot of service time, a lot of experience, and a lot of knowledge that we’ve lost,” Pierce said. “It’s a big hit. But as with the Police Department, we have firefighters who have earned the right to take on additional roles, and we’re excited to see that happen.”

The retirees and promotions were approved by the Covington city commission after ceremonies that included tears, memories, laughs, and gratitude expressed in speeches that referenced the words “service, honor, duty, and dedication” time and time again.

Altogether, Covington said farewell at the meetings to six police officers and eight firefighters who retired after long careers at the City. Then, to replace them, it promoted six officers and 16 firefighters.

Details about those changes:

Police Department

Justin Wietholter (new assistant chief) has held many roles and responsibilities during his 16 years – including bike patrol and field training officer and Narcotics/Vice Unit supervisor – and moved up the ranks to command both the SWAT unit and Patrol Bureau. As Administrative Services Commander he oversaw accreditation programs, directed policy formulation and review, managed personnel hiring processes, and chaired the Internal Affairs unit.

He has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a master’s in executive leadership and organizational change, graduated from the FBI National Academy, and is certified as a supervisor and manager through the Kentucky Law Enforcement Council.

Pat Swift (retired assistant chief) was first hired in Covington as a patrol officer in 1990, moved up the ranks to captain in 2003, and was named assistant chief in 2017 when Nader became chief. “I knew I needed a rock, a solid foundation to create an effective and successful team in the Chief’s office, and I knew that Pat was the right person … he did it all, fulfilled the request and more,” Nader said.

As commander of the Crime Bureau for almost eight years, Swift created standardized training for detectives that resulted in all of them being state-certified investigators. He also was the department’s de facto historian.

“I didn’t take this job thanking I would change the world,” Swift told the Commission. “I was hoping to have a positive impact on an individual level.”

Other Police Department changes:
Retired effective Aug. 1:
·      Lt. Jim West.
·      Specialist Jim Isaacs.
·      Detective Jess Hamblin.
·      Specialist Scott Dames.
·      Specialist Tony Hill.

Promoted effective Aug. 1:
·      Lt. Matt Winship to captain.
·      Sgt. Josh Bornhorn to lieutenant.
·      Sgt. Josh Haggard to lieutenant.
·      Specialist Jason Hartzler to sergeant.
·      Officer Justin Meyer to sergeant.

Fire Department

Gary Rucker (new assistant chief of emergency medical service) joined the department in 2004 and was promoted to engineer in 2009 and lieutenant in 2017. At the start of the pandemic, Pierce said, Rucker helped the Fire Department implement new protocols, policies, and procedures designed to keep EMS personnel and residents safe.

David Geiger (retired assistant chief) joined Covington in 1999, became the then-named EMS director in 2013 and was named an assistant chief in charge of EMS in 2019.

Geiger shepherded many new programs and initiatives, including the use of Stryker Power-LOAD cot systems to help prevent back injuries among EMS personnel and moving to the use of mechanical chest compression devices to create better outcomes for patients.

“His accomplishments in leading the EMS division have identified Covington as one of the most progressive and respected departments in the area,” Pierce said.

Other Fire Department changes:
Retired effective Aug. 1:
·      Capt. Tara Black.
·      Capt. John Hofstetter.
·      Capt. Michael Lee.
·      Engineer David Dorr.
·      Engineer Joseph Finan.
·      Engineer Michael Harris.

Retiring effective Sept. 1:
·      Battalion Chief Micah Foster.

Promoted effective Aug. 1:
·      Lt. Todd Wyatt to captain.
·      Lt. Amy Gray-Schaefer to captain.
·      Lt. Joseph Vance to captain.
·      Engineer Brian Grady to lieutenant.
·      Engineer Aaron Bolyard to lieutenant.
·      Firefighter Jonathan Eggemeier to lieutenant.
·      Firefighter Stuart Johnson to lieutenant.
·      Firefighter Kyle Vogelpohl to engineer.
·      Firefighter Brad Oberjohann to engineer.
·      Firefighter Dylan Meyer to engineer.
·      Firefighter David Ausdenmoore to engineer.
·      Firefighter Michael Bumpus to engineer.

Being promoted effective Sept. 1:
·      Capt. Corey Deye to battalion chief.
·      Lt. Patrick Averbeck to captain.
·      Firefighter Kyle Masson to lieutenant.

-Staff report

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