The Chester City Council chambers were filled with current and retired police officers, family and friends Monday evening, as Sgt. Robert Helmers was sworn in as the city's new police chief.
Speculation ran through Chester for more than a month as to who would replace outgoing Chief Ryan Coffey, who left Chester to join the detective division of the Randolph County Sheriff's Office.
Mayor Tom Page ended all speculation by naming Helmers, a sergeant and longtime member of the department. Page said he thinks Coffey and Helmers are very much alike and that he looks forward to seeing the police department continue to flourish under Helmers' leadership.
Helmers' new job began immediately. The council approved an ordinance fixing his salary at $64,535.
Coffey was presented with a plaque acknowledging his service to the city. Page said the former chief proved his value to the city over and over, adding he especially appreciated the leadership shown by Coffey and Fire Chief Marty Bert a few years ago, when police officer and volunteer fireman James Brockmeyer was tragically killed in the line of duty.
Coffey, Page said, was a "problem solver" and a man of integrity who set the standard high for the department and who will be greatly missed.
Coffey responded by thanking those he has served with and while looking forward to his new opportunities with the Sheriff's Department said he is going to miss working with all of them.
The Council also welcomed the city's newest full-time police officer, Officer Zane Wallace.