Gerald hires new police chief

Linda Trest

The Gerald Board of Aldermen approved the hiring of Jim Helton as the new chief of police during a special meeting held Friday. 

Helton, 42, lives in rural Rosebud about six miles from Gerald. He is married with two boys. His youngest son attends Gerald Elementary School. 

From 1999 until 2007, Helton served as a Gerald police officer. In 2007, he went to the Gasconade County Sheriff’s department, where he was eventually assigned to the detective bureau. Later that department was dissolved and Helton resigned from the sheriff’s department Jan. 1 of this year. 

Monday Helton hit the ground running as he arrived for his first day a work. Well wishers, including a few members of the police advisory committee who recommended his hiring, stopped in to say hello. There was also a mountain of paperwork to get through. He said that Tuesday would be used for a trip to St. Louis to get his uniforms taken care of. Then, the real work can begin. 

Helton has some immediate goals for the department. The first will be to get the department fully staffed. Currently, there are two other full-time officers besides Helton. The Board of Aldermen had previously reduced the department to four positions. That leaves Helton with the job of hiring at least one more officer, and appointing a lieutenant as his assistant. 

As he gets the department fully staffed, Helton says that he will also be taking a look at the department’s budget. He says he plans to maintain a balanced budget while he is chief. 

Training will be Helton’s third focus in shaping the department. With his certification as a generalist instructor, Helton says he can do much of that training himself. 

Gerald has not had an active chief since August when Steve Goodwin was put on administrative leave. Goodwin then resigned in mid-September. Helton will have plenty of catching up to do as he familiarizes himself with the office. 

According to Angie Koepke, who served as the chairman of the police advisory committee, Helton scored head and shoulders above the other candidates. Mayor Cary Parker reiterated that when he nominated Helton for the board’s approval. The board gave unanimous approval to the nomination.