Police Chief Emeritus Gary K. Tyler, Sr. mourned

By Joan Hunt - Managing Editor
South Windsor - posted Thu., Aug. 11, 2011
Former police chief Gary K. Tyler, Sr., who died Aug. 9 at the age of 70. Courtesy photo. - Contributed Photo

If you ever met former South Windsor police chief Gary K. Tyler, Sr., you probably remember the compassion behind his eyes and his warm, firm handshake. If you talked to the officers who were trained by and worked for him, they would tell you he was a great mentor, who had the safety of South Windsor citizens and his department as his chief priority.

He handed that responsibility over to current Police Chief Matthew Reed in May of last year, retiring  after 47 years in law enforcement, 23 of them as the chief of the South Windsor Police Department. Being named chief of police emeritus by the South Windsor Town Council, Tyler cited plans to spend more time with his two grown children and four grandchildren and traveling America with his wife, Virginia.

She was with him on Aug. 9, in Las Vegas, where they had moved shortly after retirement, when, at age 70,  he lost his long and courageous battle with cancer. Reed, who had spoken with Tyler by phone a couple of weeks ago, said he had been making plans to visit him later in the month.

“I will miss him very much,” said Reed. “Chief Tyler was a great police chief and mentor. Through the years, he became a dear friend.”
Tyler began his police career in El Cerrito, Calif., as a patrol officer, moving to Fremont, Calif., in 1964, where he rose through the ranks to become captain in charge of field operations. He had served as chief of police in Bonner Springs, Kansas, and Forest Grove, Oregon, before becoming South Windsor’s third police chief in July 1987.

“He cared deeply about the South Windsor community and was a staunch advocate of professional policing services,” Reed said.
Likewise, Mayor John Pelkey praised Tyler on May 17, 2010, prior to his retirement. “Chief Tyler has served the citizens of South Windsor with honor, efficiency and fidelity for the past 23 years,” Pelkey said on that occasion.

Tyler was also known as a humble man. Upon Reed’s appointment as police chief, Tyler said, “That’s the kind of people I like to have around me. It makes me look good.”

Reed was quoted at the time as saying, “To assume command of an agency that has run so smoothly and efficiently for the past 23 years by someone who is the consummate law enforcement professional, clearly there are large shoes to fill.”

Tyler had written several articles for Police Chief magazine and was a life member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the California Peace Officers Association. He was a past member of the CT Police Chiefs Association, Capitol Region Chiefs of Police Association and Capitol Region Public Safety Council. He was also a former corporator of Rockville Bank and past chairman of the CT Police Executive Forum and the Capitol Region Investigative Support Team, among other leadership roles.

“He built the South Windsor Police Department into a first-class agency. I am honored to have been chosen to succeed him as chief,” said Reed in a statement issued on the day of Tyler’s death.

A memorial service is still in the planning stages.

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