Police Chief Mike Dickey is proud of the department he will be leaving to Fairfield’s next police chief.
On Monday, Dickey will retire after 19 years on the job as police chief, as Fairfield Lt. Steve Maynard, a man who’s been leading the department’s operations division for the past three years, will take over the job.
And over the past two decades, Dickey, 70, has said he’s hired “some of the finest men and women in law enforcement” as he and others have worked to establish “a culture of excellence.”
“My original challenge was to take a department and make it better,” said Dickey. “We did that.”
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Dickey was hired from a field of 90 applicants in June 1999 following the resignation of former police chief Gary Rednour in November 1998. Dickey, an Air Force veteran, was the Englewood police chief for a dozen years, and the police chief and village administrator in New Lebanon for about six years. He served as a deputy sheriff, corporal and detective over a 12-year career with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office.
Dickey came to a police department that needed a police chief to come from the outside, said City Manager Mark Wendling.
“Mike, he’s just a man of integrity,” Wendling said. “He’s extremely dependable, he’s extremely loyal, and he’s very humble.”
Within Dickey’s first few years as chief, the department became nationally accredited, meeting 188 standards with the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, or CALEA. In July 2015 the department became compliant with 484 CALEA standards and received the organization’s Advanced Accreditation with Excellence award, which designated the Fairfield Police Department “a gold standard” agency.
“We have opened our doors for the last 15 years or so to an intensive peer review,” said Dickey, comparing it to how a finance department would undergo an audit. “The community can be assured that the Fairfield Police Department meets the standards to the greatest extent possible through this process.”
The national accreditation is a big reason why Wendling calls Dickey “a transformative leader” for the department, and no matter who was selected to succeed him as chief, that person had “a really hard act to live up to.” Earlier this month, Wendling chose Maynard to succeed Dickey as police chief.
Beyond bringing accreditation to the department, Dickey said a top accomplishment is strengthening the ranks.
“We have employed some of the finest men and women in law enforcement,” he said. “We are able to attract some of the brightest and educated officers that a chief can hope to have.”
The organization has also “established a culture of excellence,” which is demonstrated in how his officers approach the job.
He also said the city, through its elected leadership and management, “has provided the best tools to this department to provide that excellent service.”
Dickey was heavily involved in the opening of the 50,000-square-foot Fairfield Justice Center in 2006, said Wendling.
“He had a big part in the design of that building, and it will serve the department’s needs for generations to come,” he said.
Dickey has been involved in the city department’s Citizens Police Academy and brought back for the first time in years the city’s National Night Out at the Justice Center. Also, the crime rates in 2017 were 40 percent below the crime rates in 2007, according to the city.
While he said the department had cleared 80 percent of the homicides that have happened in the city over the past 19 years, he’s confident the four open cases will be solved.
“Certainly we have some unsolved cases that we would like to bring to closure,” Dickey said. “We have closed 80 percent of our homicides that have occurred over the last 20 years. But the cases remain open, we review annually, and we continue to try to bring to closure for the sake of the family. I’m confident that this department will continue to work on resolving those cases.”
Fairfield Mayor Steve Miller was on city council when Dickey was hired and said he succeeded in his original challenge.
“I really believe that Mike took a good department and made it better,” he said.
In retirement, Dickey said he intends to focus on a few things: becoming more involved in veterans affairs, traveling, fishing and to “improve my billiards game.” He also said he’s sure his wife “will find something for me to do.”