Sgt. Bill Gill stepped into interim role in November, but has 21 years with department
After two months on the job, Interim Police Chief Bill Gill decided the time was right to hang up his hat.
The longtime Hubbard police officer, who was promoted to sergeant in 2001 and has been with the organization for 21 years, announced he will retire Feb. 28, leaving on the heels of recently retired Chief Dave Dryden.
"My true passion in law enforcement is as a police officer, and moving into the administrative side has made me realize it's not what drove me to this career," Gill admitted. "It's just part of the normal aging process and the physical and psychological demands of law enforcement. I've loved it, enjoyed it and consider it an absolute blessing that I found my true calling in life as a police officer."
Gill came upon police work quite by accident. He had done all kinds of work, from a truck driver to a landscaper to a construction worker. Then, about 25 years ago, a friend who shared his love of true crime books encouraged him to do a ridealong with a police officer in Salem. Through that ridealong, he learned that Marion County Sheriff's Office was looking for reserve officers, and that started a spark.
"I had a number of jobs that I loved and enjoyed and had success at, but when, in the early '90s, I became a reserve officer with Marion County, I found my passion," he said. "I just discovered more than a career. It's truly a calling and something I was successful at. Investigating crimes in criminal investigations and championing victims of crimes made me realize there is no more honorable career, at least not for me."
While training at the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training, he gained a deep respect for his instructor: Hubbard Police Chief Dave Dryden.
"I realized, I would love to work for a person like that," Gill recalled.
So when he heard Hubbard was hiring, he jumped at the chance — and hasn't looked back since.
"I can say without hesitation that I owe a lot of my success in law enforcement and my commitment to Hubbard and the department to working with Dave Dryden," Gill said.
Gill started with the Hubbard Police Department April 1, 1996. He was promoted to sergeant in 2001, a capacity he has served in until Nov. 1, when Dryden retired and he was promoted to interim chief.
Late last year, when Dryden announced his retirement earlier than originally planned — his wife recently passed away so he took on the role of a full-time dad — it made Gill also consider his retirement.
"We're similar in age and we always considered we may retire close to each other," Gill said. "I'm a cancer survivor, and one of my goals (after that battle) was to recover my life and career, but along with that comes the realization of mortality. I managed to recover my career, and now it's time to focus on life and family."
That family includes two grown children, one of whom is a K-9 officer in Salem, three grandchildren and his wife, who also recently retired. He said he hopes to take to the road with his wife, traveling to baseball stadiums around the country, possibly some from the seat of a motorcycle, weather permitting. Gill said he owns three motorcycles, including a '50s-era Harley Davidson that he built himself using modern parts.
"From before I was old enough to drive I developed a passion for motorcycles, and that continues today," he said.
Gill expressed appreciation for the many people he has worked with over the years who contributed to making his job a success.
"Many people have generously shared their knowledge and skill sets, and many more have provided their knowledge and time toward the successful conclusion of hundreds of investigations," Gill said. "I consider the opportunity of having had a career in law enforcement a blessing."
The future of the police department, specifically the role of chief, is currently up in the air, but it's one of the top agenda items for Hubbard City Council's Tuesday meeting this week.
"Our community has benefited from almost 60 years of experience between Chiefs Dryden and Gill, and that institutional knowledge is hard to replace," said incoming Mayor Thia Estes in a written statement. "We sincerely thank Chief Gill for his many years of dedicated service to the safety of our city, and we wish him the very best in retirement."
A public reception for Chief Gill will be held at 2 p.m. Feb. 28 in the Hubbard Council Chambers, 3720 Second St., Hubbard.