By Terry Rogers
On Friday, August 28, the City of Milford announced the retirement of Police Chief, Keith Hudson. Chief Hudson has been with the Milford Police Department almost 40 years and has been the Chief of Police since 2002.
“It has been an honor to serve in my hometown and the citizens of this great community,” Chief Hudson stated. “Though there have been some really good times and some really challenging ones, the majority of my career has been truly a rewarding experience. Today, police are constantly faced with unwanted circumstances and they will have to continue working hard to build and maintain that community trust.”
Chief Hudson was born, raised and educated in Milford, Delaware. While a teenager, he and a friend, John McKenzie, who is a former police officer and now Magistrate Justice, helped register bicycles at the police station that was located on South Washington Street in Milford. The building was recently demolished in order to expand the city’s wastewater treatment system. Chief Hudson became a member of the Carlisle Fire Company and a Delaware State Police Explorer at a young age. While in high school, he began working at Moore’s Esso Station, located on the corner of Route 113 and Lakeview Avenue until he was hired by Milford Fertilizer in his senior year.
Chief Hudson graduated in 1975 from Milford High School and began attending Delaware Technical and Community College, studying criminal justice. While attending the college, Chief Hudson applied for a position with Milford Police Department and he was hired by then Chief of Police, Richard Carmean, as a full-time dispatcher. Less than a year later, he was promoted to a police officer position and he completed the Delaware Police Academy in 1978, becoming the 957th officer to be issued a Delaware Council on Police Training Certificate. Two days later, he was officially sworn in as a Milford Police Officer and completed his field training three weeks later.
Rising through the ranks at Milford Police Department, Chief Hudson said that he experienced many highlights during his years with the force. He said that the morning that Chief Carmean, who was then City Manager, called him to tell him that Mayor Ronnie Rogers and then Police Chief, the late Bobby Taulbee, were recommending him to be the next police chief.
“I had never thought about it until that moment,” Chief Hudson said. “I thought they were going to hire from the outside, even though there were other officers at the department that were just as qualified. That afternoon, I had a long talk with Taulbee and he encouraged me even more that I could handle it. I had some big shoes to fill, and, 13 years later, I am still so grateful they gave me that chance.”
Chief Hudson said that the most fun of his career was when he was on the road. He said that he was able to meet so many people, although it was a different world when he was on the road. He said that he worries about his officers each day and often wakes up in the middle of the night to call dispatchers in order to check on how things are going.
“My proudest moment was when my son graduated from the Wilmington Police Academy in 2010 after completing six months of training where he drove back and forth every day,” Chief Hudson said of the highlights of his career. “He received the second highest academic award out of 35 recruits and I had the honor of pinning his badge on during the ceremony.”
One of Chief Hudson’s biggest disappointments is related to funding and the need for a new building to house the department. He said that they were “bursting at the seams” in the current building and that officers as well as the public faced safety issues when they came into the station. Chief Hudson said that he appreciated Councilmen Doug Morrow, Garrett Grier and the late Skip Pikus for going with him to meet legislators in Washington DC in an effort to obtain funding.
“Another challenge that all chiefs have is never having enough police officers,” Chief Hudson said. “The more we can put on the street, the safer they are and the safer our citizens are. There are many times that multiple police officers need to respond to a complaint, especially in a critical situation. They are running from one complaint to another today. I was listening to the radio a couple weeks ago and heard three fights being called in at one time in different parts of town. And that was during the day. If you ask any police chief if they have enough officers, I don’t think you will ever find one that says yes.”
When asked what he would advise council to look for in his replacement, Chief Hudson said that the next chief will have the advantage of working with a Mayor and council who are very positive and fair. He said that the relationship between the Mayor’s office, council and the police department will allow the next chief to focus on the department’s needs first and that the new chief will inherit a great department, and overall, a great community.
Chief Hudson said that technology has been the biggest change in police work over his 38 years with the force. He said that he recalls writing reports with pen and paper but today’s officer uses an in-car computer. He said that his replacement will face increased expectations for transparency and accountability as well as more need for continued training.
“Thirty years ago, a police officer only had to submit a one-page affidavit,” Chief Hudson said. “Today, they are required to provide almost an entire investigation before a search warrant is issued.” Some changes to the force, have been positive for officers, Chief Hudson said with a switch from eight-hour shifts to 12-hour shifts. This allows officers to have every other weekend at home with their family, where the eight-hour shift only allowed them one weekend per month off.
Chief Hudson said that Milford has exploded in size since he began his career, almost doubling in size and population. There are many more businesses today that are open at different hours. He pointed out that when he began as a police officer, only the hospital was open 24 hours per day and all of those changes have had a major impact on the police force.
When asked why he chose to retire now, Chief Hudson said that he just knew it was time. He said that he knows there are a good group of young, capable and experienced officers who deserve the chance for promotion. Since his second in command, Captain Dion Brooks, retired recently, his retirement would open the door for big changes at the top of the police department.
“As Mayor, Councilman, business owner and resident of the City of Milford, it has been an honor to work alongside Chief Hudson,” said Mayor Bryan Shupe. “Protecting and serving his community through four decades, Chief Hudson started from humble beginnings as a dispatcher and worked his way to Chief as he carried out his work with the highest level of honesty, integrity and compassion towards all of the residents and visitors he served. As the city grew exponentially over his tenure, his philosophy of treating all people with dignity and respect never wavered. As an officer of the law, Chief Hudson insured our public safety and created a strong partnership with the community. I know that he will continue this commitment and service to the city of Milford long after his retirement.”
Chief Hudson said that he really has no plans after his retirement other than to do some painting and other work needed at his home. “I am looking forward to doing some bass fishing, which is a new hobby I have taken up with the encouragement of one of my friends,” Chief Hudson said. “I am also going to take up an offer to travel with some friends. At some point, I would like to take on a part-time job, but for now, I am just looking forward to slowing down a bit.”
Mayor Shupe will be working with Vice Mayor and Police Committee Chairman Morrow to discuss the process for finding a replacement for Chief Hudson. They will announce their recommendation at an upcoming City Council meeting in September.
Official Release from the City of Milford
On Friday, August 28, 2015, Milford Mayor Bryan Shupe announced that just shy of being employed by the Milford Police Department for four decades, Chief E. Keith Hudson’s career will come to a close when he retires as Chief of one of Delaware’s largest municipal police departments this year. He has held almost every position in the police department, working his way up through the ranks to take command in 2002. Chief Hudson read his letter of intent to retire to Mayor and City Council during an executive meeting this past Monday night, August 24, 2015.
“It has been an honor to serve in his hometown and the citizens in this great community,” stated Chief Hudson. “Though there have been some really good times and some really challenging ones, the majority of my career has been a truly rewarding experience. Today police are constantly faced with unwanted circumstances and they will have to continue working hard to build and maintain that community trust.”
Chief Hudson said that as far as he can remember, he always wanted to be a police officer. He believes this is the right time to retire and is comfortable leaving behind a very professional and well-trained police force. He thanked the Mayor and Council for choosing him to be their Chief of Police in 2002 and acknowledged their ongoing encouragement and support over the past 13 years. Commending the officers and employees at the police department for their hard work and dedication to this city, he added “that today, these officers are busier than ever before as the statistics easily prove”.
Chief Hudson, 58, is unsure what the next step will be in his life but when the City of Milford joined the State of Delaware Public Employees’ Retirement Plan back in 2005, the chief always indicated that 2015 would be his final year. Chief Hudson resides in Milford with his wife, Terri, of 34 years and has two children, Megan, and Sean and a granddaughter Sadie.
Mayor Shupe stated that “As Mayor, Councilman, business owner and resident in the City of Milford, it has been an honor to work alongside Chief Hudson. Protecting and serving his community through four decades, Chief Hudson started from humble beginnings as a dispatcher and worked his way to Chief as he carried out his work with the highest level of honesty, integrity and compassion towards all of the residents and visitors he served. As the City grew exponentially over his tenure, his philosophy of treating all people with dignity and respect never wavered. As an officer of the law, Chief Hudson ensured our public safety and created a strong partnership with the community. I know that he will continue this commitment and service to the city of Milford long after his retirement.”
Chief Hudson was born, raised and educated in Milford, Delaware. During his teenage years, he, along with John McKenzie, a former Milford Officer and now Magistrate Justice, could be found registering bicycles at the now demolished police station on South Washington Street in Milford. At a young age, he became a member of the Carlisle Fire Company and also a Delaware State Police Explorer. In tenth grade, he began working at Moore’s Esso Station which was located on the corner of Lakeview Avenue and US 113. During his senior year of high school, he was hired by Milford Fertilizer.
Almost two years after his 1975 graduation from Milford High School, while majoring in criminal justice at Delaware Technical and Community College in Georgetown, Chief Hudson applied to the Milford Police Department. He was initially hired by former Police Chief Richard Carmean as a full-time dispatcher. Aware that Hudson was unsettled in that position, Chief Carmean offered him a position as a police officer less than a year later. Chief Hudson successfully completed the Delaware State Police Academy and at graduation in December 1978, became the 957th officer to be issued a Delaware Council on Police Training Certificate. Two days later, Hudson was officially sworn in as a Milford Police Officer by then City Alderman Ralph Henderlong. He completed his field training only three weeks later.
After only one year on the road, he was appointed to the Selective Enforcement Unit. His initial promotion to Patrolman First Class came in December1980. Early the next year, he was chosen to oversee the specialized unit. In 1982, Hudson was appointed Assistant Shift Commander and began volunteering for various assignments throughout the department. He took on the role as the department’s photographer where he assisted the Criminal Investigation Unit on a regular basis. In July 1984, he was promoted to the rank of Corporal and assigned one of the four Shift Commander positions in the department. In late 1985, one of his superior officers recommended his promotion to Patrol Sergeant which was attained in January 1986.
An instructor in Police Radar and the PR-24 Police Baton, Hudson was also a certified instructor for the US Department of Transportation in DWI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing. Over the years, he continued to enhance his career by attending various law enforcement management schools throughout the country. During his tenure as a Patrol Sergeant, Hudson was accepted to attend the FBI National Academy, graduating as a member of the 158th Session in September 1989. In November of that same year, he was promoted to a newly created position of Staff Sergeant where he remained until 1992. The same year, he was appointed to the Drug Activity Investigation and Response Unit (DAIR) Team. Over the years, that team has been reorganized and renamed the Special Operations Group which continues to exist today.
Ahead of his time, Hudson focused on ways to help enhance police-community relations. He established neighborhood watch programs in several neighborhoods throughout Milford and in doing so, enlisted the active participation of residents to cooperate with police in an effort to reduce crime, solve problems and improve the quality of life in their areas. He helped organize the first Anti-Substance Abuse March through Milford in the late 1980’s. In 1992, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant where he oversaw the Internal Affairs and Operations. In March of 2002, he was promoted to the rank of Captain under the late Chief Bobby Taulbee.
Milford City Council appointed Hudson as Milford’s Chief of Police, following the retirement of Chief Taulbee, and he was officially sworn in as Chief of Police on June 3, 2002. Hudson received the Elks Police Officer of the Year in 1990 and the US Department of Defense Patriot Award in 2011. His service includes many years as a member of the Fraternal Order of Police and the Delaware Police Chiefs’ Council where he served on various committees including the Police Chiefs’ Goals Committee. A member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police since 1982, he also served on their Special Law Enforcement Assistance Fund Committee. In 2012, Hudson was awarded IACP’s prestigious life membership.
Mayor Shupe will be working with Vice Mayor and Police Committee Chairman Doug Morrow to discuss the process for finding a replacement for Chief Hudson. Their recommendation will be presented to City Council for a final decision.