New Baden Police Chief Mike Riley radioed into St. Clair County’s dispatch center at the end of his shift at 6 p.m. Tuesday the same way he has for almost 40 years, but this time it was different.
This time, he called “10-42”— the signal that means his tour of duty for the day has ended — for the last time. After just over 39 years as a police officer and 36 years as New Baden’s chief, Riley retired.
“Turned out pretty good, I’m happy with my career,” Riley said Monday. “Happy I’m going out on my own terms.”
Riley, 62, said he’s ready to take up projects at home he’s put off over the last few decades. He said he’s also looking forward to spending more time with his grandkids.
Riley’s seen a lot in the four decades he’s been a cop.
“It’s been interesting of course to watch the technology change. When I first started, my wife had to stay at home and answer the phone and dispatch calls for me,” Riley said.
New Baden residents are familiar with Riley’s replacement. Sgt. Scott Meinhardt has been a full-time officer for 25 years, all with New Baden. He said Tuesday he’s “absolutely” excited to take over where Riley left off and has appreciated what he’s learned from his chief.
“Couldn’t be a nicer boss to work for. He’s always been very community-oriented and has fostered that in all his officers. That’s something I’ve picked up from him directly,” Meinhardt said. He added the change in leadership should go off without a hitch.
“I certainly think that being as involved in the department and in the community as I am, I’ve got a finger on the pulse of the community and that the desire of the community can best be put forward by our hand,” Meinhardt said of the department he’s taking over. “We’ve got a well-seasoned, stable group of officers and I think that’s to our benefit.”
Meinhardt is expected to be sworn in as police chief during the regular village board meeting Wednesday night. A luncheon honoring Riley is set for 6 p.m. July 11 at the American Legion Post 321 in New Baden.