Case, 49, has been with the police 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 Mt. Pleasant police officer, Kyle Holcomb, were the three finalists for the chief’s position.
The city manager had said last week that he believed a total of 14 applicants sought the position. Some were from out of state.
In announcing Case’s appointment, Ellington told the council he thought choosing a current department member served “the best interests of the city.” The city charter empowers Ellington alone to appoint the department’s two top-ranking officers, but the council voted to symbolically endorse his decision.
“I think this is a good choice,” said Mayor R.D. (Buck) Cross of the two appointments. Cross, a former Upshur County sheriff and onetime Texas Department of Public Safety trooper, 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. He had named Case as interim chief only last week.
The city manager initially named longtime Asst. Police Chief T.J. Harris as interim chief when Grunden resigned. But Ellington then appointed Case as acting chief when Harris unexpectedly resigned from the department June 30, effective July 14. (At Tuesday’s council meeting, Ellington said Harris later moved the effective date to July 4).
Harris, who was scheduled to be interviewed as a finalist for chief, instead accepted a position with the Upshur County Sheriff’s Office.
Case, who grew up in Gladewater and served on its police force from 1990 to 1996, expressed happiness at his selection Tuesday, telling reporters at City Hall that “I’m glad. Just another stepping stone.”
“It’s just part of the career field, you know. You start at the bottom and want to work your way up,” Case said.
He agreed that promoting from within the department helps its morale, saying “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.
He said he believes the police force has 15 certified officers. The new chief said he would have to finish evaluating the department before making any changes.
A Gladewater High School graduate, Case served in the U.S. Army from 1984 to 1989, reaching the rank of sergeant and being stationed in Germany, Colorado and at Fort Hood in Texas. He attended the East Texas Police Academy in Kilgore, and was a reserve officer and patrolman for the Gladewater Police Dept.
He is married, and has two children.
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.”
Both men were present at the city council meeting when Ellington announced the appointments. The city manager had anticipated that the council would go in closed session, and that he would announce his choice there before announcing it publicly, but the closed session was held after the announcement instead.
Ellington told the council he had had City Building Official/Code Enforcement Officer Danny Lancaster, who is a certified police officer with a chief’s commission, and City Secy. Kathy Hoover sit in on Ellington’s interviews of the three finalists. The city manager said he discussed the selection with Lancaster and Mrs. Hoover.