DeWitt Police Chief James Hildmann will officially retire from the force on Sept. 30 after 23 years of service in the law enforcement profession. (DeWitt Police Department)
By Hayleigh Gowans
After nearly three years serving as head of the DeWitt Police Department, Chief James Hildmann has announced his intention to retire from law enforcement.
Effective Sept. 30, Hildmann will officially be retired from the DeWitt Police Department, and the search for a new chief will be undertaken by the DeWitt Town Board.
Hildmann has been in law enforcement for 23 years, and started his career as an officer for the Liverpool Police Department in 1995, which merged with the Syracuse City Police Department in 1996. He worked as a Syracuse officer until May 1998, when he made the transition to the DeWitt Police Department.
During his time at DeWitt, Hilmann was promoted through the ranks starting off as an officer and working his ranks to investigator in 2002, sergeant in 2005, lieutenant in 2007, captain in 2009 and chief in January 2015, following Gene Conway’s departure to serve as Onondaga County Sheriff.
When he was appointed chief, Hildmann said he had three goals — to carry-out a smooth merger with the East Syracuse Police Department, to achieve a CALEA accreditation and to make some changes to the organization with contracts and promotions to personnel.
“Once these were accomplished and I had completed the budget for this year, I thought it would be good to end my law enforcement career on a positive note,” said Hildmann.
Looking back on his career in law enforcement, Hildmann attributes much of his interest in being a figure of support for youths. When he was younger, Hildmann said there was a K9 sheriff’s deputy that lived in his neighborhood who would make a point to interact with him and neighborhood kids. Hildmann also worked at the Hillbrook Detention Center as a counselor for about five years before he entered the police force, which is when he said he realized he would like to help kids avoid making the wrong decisions and ending up in a facility like Hillbrook. Hildmann said these experiences were what inspired him to go into law enforcement.
“I reflect back on not only the calls and the cases I’ve been involved with, but the time spent with kids in schools. Those times really stand out to me,” said Hildmann. “Unfortunately law enforcement usually is there on a bad day for most people. We are brought to some of the worst times in peoples’ lives … To build that rapport with children is important.”
As for what he looks forward to in retirement, Hildmann said he has three teenage boys with whom he wants to spend more time and support as they look to their college years.
Though the DeWitt Town Board will ultimately make the decision to select the new police chief, Hildmann said the group he has worked with in DeWitt is a strong group of law enforcement professionals and hopes the board will consider looking internally.
I am a reporter for the Eagle Bulletin and Cazenovia Republican at Eagle News. I report on topics ranging from town and village government, business, news and features. I am a 2014 graduate of the Roy H. Park School of Communications and have a degree in Journalism and a minor in Psychology.