Hilliard Northwest News

Mike Redmond

Retiring sergeant's 31-year career will end Nov. 1

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Sgt. Mike Redmond, the most senior member of the Hilliard Division of Police, will retire Nov. 1, capping a 31-year career with the department.

"I had it my mind that I didn't want to work past (a specific age)," said Redmond, 56, who enrolled in a department program eight years ago to establish a mandatory retirement date.

Redmond first pinned a badge in September 1982.

While no family member wore blue, Redmond developed an admiration and appreciation for law and order at an early age. While at West High School, he participated in a student law-enforcement program and upon graduation, enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps.

After his military service, Redmond graduated from the Ohio State Highway Patrol Academy and joined the Hilliard Division of Police.

Upon completing his field training, his first full day alone on the road was Christmas Day, 1982.

Three days later, Redmond experienced a rarity in Hilliard: the investigation of a homicide.

He and two other officers responded Dec. 28 to the residence of school teachers Jim and Carolyn Porter, who were slain by their son, Brad. He had fled to Florida, where he was apprehended and later convicted.

In addition, Redmond was the first Hilliard officer, along with Joe Colignio, to receive the Medal of Valor for a 1987 incident in which a fleeing bank robber shot at the officers.

In an age before instant communication, Redmond and Colignio were in lone pursuit of the man, who had robbed a bank that once stood at the site of the Auto Zone on Main Street and Constitution Boulevard.

Redmond said he and Colignio were having lunch at Otie's and were using an unmarked car when the call was received.

The pursuit left Hilliard to the south and for the next 10 minutes, the duo chased the man, who stopped in the Wilson Road area and fired a gun at the officers through the open passenger door window.

"The dispatcher kept telling us, 'Columbus is on the way. They're coming, they're coming,' " Redmond said.

After a trip on parts of Interstate 70, the man drove into another industrial area near Westbelt Drive, where he stopped and "all at once there seemed to be 40 police cars" all with lights and sirens blaring, Redmond said.

Police from Columbus, the Franklin County Sheriff's Office and area townships had seemingly converged at the same time and place, he said.

"I grabbed a rifle and took cover behind my door," said Redmond, who witnessed the man point the gun at his own head and fatally shoot himself.

As more officers of Redmond's era retire, he said, they take with them experiences new officers won't encounter.

In 1989, Redmond and another officer traveled to Arkansas in pursuit of a murder suspect.

"We didn't have cellphones, so we had to call the station when we stopped somewhere. When we called back (to Hilliard), they said, 'We've been waiting for you to call,' " Redmond said.

Hilliard police advised him the man they were in search of, Gerald Atkins, had been apprehended by police. He was subsequently convicted.

"We asked a couple of troopers in the restaurant (the location of the city) and then drove there to get him," Redmond said.

Redmond joined the detective bureau in 1985 and was promoted to sergeant in 1992.

He returned to the patrol bureau in 1995 and will conclude his career back in the detective bureau as a sergeant of the newly created criminal investigative unit.

"We were one of the first departments to have a computer," said Redmond, though in the mid-1980s, computers served as little more than word processors, printers and data terminals.

"Now, we can instantly know when a stolen item is pawned," he said. "There was a time an officer had to go on foot to each store with a picture or serial numbers to compare."

Redmond said his most memorable experience as an officer was driving in a caravan with police and Norwich Township firefighters from Hilliard to New York City in 2010 after retrieving steel and a flagpole from the former World Trade Center, destroyed in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The steel is part of First Responders Park in Old Hilliard and a smaller memorial in front of the Joint Safety Services Building on Northwest Parkway.

While some retired Hilliard police officers have relocated, Redmond plans to stay in Hilliard to remain close to family and to remain active in his hobbies, which include playing golf and any club related to Irish heritage.

Redmond is an officer in the Shamrock Club and the Emerald Society of Columbus, an organization of Columbus police and firefighters of Irish descent.

He and his wife, Cathy, his high school sweetheart, have one son, Patrick, 36, and one granddaughter.

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