MOUNT GILEAD — Adam Lakey is ready for his newest challenge as a law enforcement officer.
Lakey, who began with the village police department in March 2010, became chief on Feb. 26.
“The goal of any officer when he gets into law enforcement is to some day be the chief of police,” he said.
He succeeds Brian Zerman, who retired last month after 30 years with the department.
“I took over for Chief Zerman and acting chief (Kenny) Underwood, who left me an amazing department that already functions really well. We have an amazing group of officers who are great at their job.”
Lakey attended the Marion Law Enforcement Academy in 2008-09. He has degrees from Marion Technical College in criminal justice technology and business management technology.
He worked as an auxiliary deputy with the Morrow County Sheriff’s Office for a short time.
The recent departures of Zerman and Capt. Underwood are noteworthy.
“Those two are icons in the law enforcement community and took with them nearly 70 years of combined experience when they retired. They are both really tough acts to follow, but I am going to do my best to lead the department in a manner that they would be proud of.
Lakey called the two “excellent mentors of mine ever since I started in this profession. That’s one of my greatest resources as I navigate through the administrative part of being the chief … there is a lot more paperwork.”
The biggest goal Lakey says he has is “to bring in things to make the guys’ jobs easier.”
Increased efficiency as a result of removing repetitive paperwork hopefully “allows them more time for patrolling and better serving the community.”
It’s a community of which Lakey is quite familiar.
“I’m a village resident myself. We have an amazing community. I’d say that 50 to 75 percent of the cars I pass the operators are waving at me.
“I am consistently amazed by the amount of support shown to the department on a daily basis. The village of Mount Gilead is a top-notch group of citizens that I am proud to serve.”
That familiarity brings a positive aspect.
“It reminds me of Capt. Underwood. Everywhere we went people knew Kenny and wanted to come up and talk to him. I am kind of starting to gather that same group.”
Lakey said citizens routinely approach officers at the gas station or come to them with a problem that may or may not be law enforcement-related.
“And we do the best we can to help them out,” he said.
Teamwork will be a key component for Lakey’s unit.
“I just want to see every member of the department succeed and excel. It is my goal to make sure every officer has what they need, whether that be training, equipment, or direction, to do their duty effectively and efficiently. If my officers succeed, then that means I have succeeded as well.”
One of the first moves Lakey made was to promote veteran officer Tom Cronenwett from Sergeant to Captain.
“Tom has been a good friend and mentor to me since I started at the department. His experience and knowledge are an invaluable asset to me, as well as to the rest of the department. I sincerely hope that, together, we can bring the department to the next level.”
Cronenwett will continue to run the K-9 unit.
Village Mayor Jamie Brucker expects good things going forward.
“As we continue to overcome transitions from many years of experience retiring in a short amount of time, I am encouraged to see our transition of Chief from within the department as well. Chief Lakey has been an outstanding officer over his 11 years of service with the MGPD and I have no doubt he will lead the department with the ideals to protect and serve our community. Those ideals have been evident in his service over the years,” he said.
“As a community, we were fortunate to have three great candidates apply within the department.”