Gilmer names new police chief

Published on Tuesday, 8 July 2014 22:24 - Written by Special Correspondent

PHILLIP WILLIAMS

GILMER — Mark Case, a veteran member of the Gilmer Police Department, was named police chief by City Manager Jeff Ellington at a city council meeting Tuesday.

Case, 49, has been with the department 18 years, having served as a lieutenant for nearly 10 years. He succeeds James Grunden, who resigned effective June 30 after 18 years as chief.

Ellington also announced his appointment of another longtime member of the police force, Lt. Ron Benge, as the department’s second highest-ranking officer with the title of captain. Benge, Case and a Mount Pleasant police officer, Kyle Holcomb, were the three finalists for the chief’s post.

In announcing Case’s appointment, Ellington told the council he believed choosing someone already in the department as chief served “the best interests of the city.” Although the city charter empowers Ellington to appoint the department’s two top-ranking officers, the council voted to express its approval of his decision.

“I think this is a good choice,” said Mayor R.D. (Buck) Cross of the two appointments.

Cross said promoting someone from within the police force boosts the department’s morale.

Ellington noted he had worked with both Case and Benge during the city manager’s entire 9 1/2-year tenure. Ellington had named Case as interim chief last week when Assistant Chief T.J. Harris unexpectedly submitted his resignation.

Case, who grew up in Gladewater and served on its police force from 1990-96, expressed happiness at his selection, telling reporters “It’s just part of the career field, you know. You start at the bottom and want to work your way up.”

He agreed that promoting from within the department helps its morale, adding “You’re accustomed to the way people work.” Some changes will be made, “but it (promoting someone to chief from within) makes the transition a whole lot easier,” Case said.

A Gladewater High School graduate, Case served in the U.S. Army from 1984-89, when he was stationed in Germany, Colorado and at Fort Hood in Texas. He later served as a reserve officer and patrolman for the Gladewater Police Department.

Benge, 59, has been with the Gilmer police force 13 1/2 years. He formerly worked for the Upshur County Sheriff’s Office, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Longview County Organized Drug Unit (CODE).

Benge said he had known Case before being employed by the Gilmer Police Department, and “I’m real proud for Mark. I think he’ll do an outstanding job.”