Hilliard police Chief Rodney Garnett usually is a man of few words.

Hilliard police Chief Rodney Garnett usually is a man of few words.

He's the kind of guy who not only prefers simplicity but also revels in it.

He openly admits that computers haven't always been his bailiwick, that he hasn't always seen eye to eye with the mayors with whom he has worked and that less can absolutely be more.

Still, Garnett on Monday night took a full house at the Hilliard City Council meeting on an eloquent 15-minute journey that covered more than three decades, culminating in what Mayor Don Schonhardt referred to as "the end of an era."

In October Garnett will take off his badge, hang up his handcuffs and concentrate on his first love -- baseball -- just in time for the World Series.

"I'm rounding third and heading for home," Garnett said in the words of longtime Cincinnati Reds broadcaster Joe Nuxhall.

Nobody around Hilliard City Hall could recall a time when Garnett wasn't a part of the police department. He was hired Feb. 11, 1975, promoted to sergeant on April 11, 1977, elevated to the rank of lieutenant on April 24, 1978, and named police chief on June 20, 1986.

Though Garnett has served as police chief for the past 23 years, he actually ranks second among all city employees with more than 34 years on the job.

Garnett said the major accomplishment during his three decades of service was the recent move to the new state-of-the-art Joint Safety Services Building on Northwest Parkway.

"I'm proud of my role in getting this accomplished," he said. "I've been part of planning for a new building for my entire career as chief of police and have seen those plans fail no less than four times before. It was always agreed that our facility needed replaced, but we could never find the money or other things more important always came up."

Garnett said he has served for four different mayors, nine safety directors, three finance directors, three parks and recreation directors, seven service directors, two economic-development directors, one human-resources director and one director of buildings and lands.

Looking back on his career, Garnett said he has seen it all.

"I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly of this city," he said. "I know a lot of the bad and ugly stories, and I'll keep those to myself. I hope I can always remember the good things, but I'm also thankful for the bad things because if it weren't for the bad things that people do, I probably wouldn't be employed. I only hope that I can forget all the ugly things that I've seen over the years, and -- believe me -- there's a lot of them."

During his farewell, Garnett didn't mince words about his sometimes strained relationship with Schonhardt.

"Several years ago my communications with the mayor weren't so good," he said. "We both were kind of doing our own thing. We have now come to an understanding, and I believe for the last several years our communications have been much better. I agreed to keep him better informed and let him know what I was thinking. He agreed to do the same."

Garnett said part of his agreement with Schonhardt was that he would step aside in 2009 and make way for a new leader for the city police.

"I believe I'll be leaving the department in good hands," Garnett said.

Garnett said Oct. 2, 2009, would mark the end of his law-enforcement career.

"I have been very fortunate in my career here with the Hilliard city police," he said. "I'm proud of what I've done and how we got here. I'm also proud of the fact that I was the leader of the gang. My hope is that I can someday look back and say that I played a major role in making the Hilliard Police Department what it is today. It has been a long journey."

He continued: "There have been times when the race was very fast-paced and others when I have been able to slow down so I could go the distance. During all those times, as with any race, you know if you keep plugging away, you will come to the finish line eventually. It has been a long race and a good game."