Rick Butsko's move to police chief fits his intent to be part of a unit with a collective goal.

Grove City's new police chief cites a remark made famous by President Ronald Reagan to explain why he's dedicated his career to law enforcement.

"President Reagan said that a lot of people go through life wondering if they are making a difference in the world, but the Marines don't have that problem," said Rick Butsko, who served in combat as a U.S. Marine during Desert Storm.

"Well, the same is true of a police officer," he said. "The service to a greater good is a rewarding and satisfying way to live. I found that in the Marine Corps and I've found it in police work.

"I really appreciate the satisfaction of being part of something that is much bigger than me," Butsko said.

Butsko was named last month as the city's new police chief, replacing Jeff Pearson who retired.

Butsko "has emerged as a true leader in the division," deputy city administrator/safety director William Vedra said. "We look forward to him serving in the leadership role."

It's particularly pleasing to have been able to select the new chief from within the department, he said.

"That says a lot about the quality of our division and our personnel," Vedra said.

"Rick's provided our community with 26 years of exemplary public service," he said. "He's a natural leader. I'd describe him as being committed to professionalism and serving the community."

Butsko is "the ultimate team player," Vedra said. "He has served as a great role model for our younger officers and will continue to do that as chief."

Although his first day as chief was July 27, Butsko officially was sworn in at the Aug. 20 city council meeting.

He has served on the Grove City police force for 26 years.

"As a kid, I really didn't have any idea what I wanted to do with my life," Butsko said. "My grandfather was a World War II veteran, a pilot, and spent 30 years in the military. I looked up to him, so in high school I decided to commit to the military and the Marine Corps."

He said the rigor, discipline and the sense of working as part of a unit toward a collective goal he found in the military appealed to him.

But after four years in the military, Butsko was looking for something that would keep him in one place, he said.

"I lived in four different states and three countries during my military service," he said. "Thinking about that desire to serve the community, I knew I wanted to be a police officer. Staying in one place sure appealed to me. And I wanted to come back to central Ohio."

After leaving the Marines, Butsko said he researched various police departments and communities and realized Grove City would be a good fit.

"They were hiring police officers at the time, but I also knew Grove City had a small-town feeling and would be a place where I would want to live and raise my family," Butsko said. "I've never looked back. We live in Ohio's best hometown."

As a Grove City resident, his profession has been personal, he said.

"It's way beyond a job for me," Butsko said. "This is where I live. My children all attended Grove City High School.

"I'm as concerned as the residents that Grove City be a safe place, because I'm a resident, too."

After starting as a patrol officer, Butsko also served as school resource officer at GCHS, a detective, a patrol sergeant, a special-operations sergeant and a lieutenant before being named chief.

"This department is in a great way and that's because of the work and dedication of my predecessors and the officers," he said.

"My goal as chief is to maintain and build upon the excellence that's been established here."

The best part of being a police officer is being able to help people during what may be their most trying times, Butsko said.

"You are able to help them as a police officer in a way that perhaps no one else can," he said. "If a police officer is in the job for the right reason, they never get tired of that. It's a good feeling to go home with."

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