Riverbank Police Services Chief Erin Kiely is closing the chapter on his law enforcement career after serving for 25 years. After almost seven years as the chief for Riverbank, his final day on the job will be March 13. He will be moving on to new adventures in his life and spending quality time with his family. Sheriff’s Lieutenant Ed Ridenour will be his replacement.
“I do not anticipate diving back into it,” said Kiely. “I plan on doing other things in life after giving over a quarter century to law enforcement. When I say I, I mean my family also. There is definitely a commitment by families of those that are in this career path.”
With a love for the outdoors he originally considered working for Fish and Game but due to the recession in the early ‘90s they were not hiring but laying people off. Although this created a few obstacles it led him to the law enforcement career path.
“Somebody that I knew worked for a local agency that had known me most of my life and they thought I was geared for law enforcement,” added Kiely. “The more I contemplated it I thought there might be something to this. They knew that I had the right attributes, the right qualities to make a career of this. It seemed to be a pretty good fit. I was lucky that I had somebody like that. That could identify things before I really recognized them.”
In 1994 he began his law enforcement career with the Clovis Police Department and was there for almost three years with a desire to someday work for the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department. He then made a lateral move to the sheriff’s department where he started out in patrol. After working patrol for a few years he moved to the general crimes detectives assigned to the rural crimes unit. There he worked a wide range of crimes like financial, burglaries, equipment thefts involving the agriculture business and community. He also had collateral assignments working on the SWAT team and the mounted unit as well as continuing work on patrol and with detectives.
In the meantime, he and his wife started a family and he found that, with his workload, he was missing a lot of special moments. After his five-year tour with detectives Kiely tested for sergeant and was successful. The move to patrol sergeant was made which led him to work with Chief Beck in Riverbank.
“He (Chief Beck) talked to me on a couple of occasions that Riverbank could be a great place to work,” stated Kiely. “I never had any interest in working in Riverbank but he was convincing and I came out. I learned that it was probably the best kept secret with the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department. I really enjoy working out in this community for Riverbank Police Services.”
Through his career he has seen many things including laws, decentralization, hiring, firing, technology and changes in society. He has seen a decline in respect for law enforcement as people obstruct, delay and challenge deputies on a daily basis where in the past it may occur on occasion. The qualified capable candidates are at a decline and when he began his career there were more applicants than available jobs.
Presented with the opportunity to come back and work in Riverbank for Chief Pooley as a sergeant, Kiely soon found himself in an even better position. Pooley decided to accept a post as the assistant sheriff for Tuolumne County so they moved Kiely into the interim Chief position as there was not a Lieutenant available to move in that position. In April 2013 Kiely took over the interim position, even though he was a Sergeant and not a Lieutenant, since he knew the community and it would be a smooth transition.
This led Kiely to pursue the Lieutenant position since he was already doing the work of the Chief, learning new tasks and fulfilling the obligations. After passing the exam he applied for Chief and tested for it and was successful once again. So in November of 2013 he was officially assigned to the post of Riverbank Police Services Chief.
“The very essence of a Police Chief is that you are the conduit between the community that you serve and the police department or in this case police services,” expressed Kiely. “So I learned more (about the Riverbank community) based upon that role and that perspective.”
This week Kiely will have his final City Council meeting where he will be recognized and a final retirement party will be hosted by the city. There have been many comments since the announcement of his retirement by colleagues and city staff, noting that he will be greatly missed.
“It is bittersweet,” he said. “My wife is looking very forward to me not having a work phone. I pride myself in being reachable and it has been that way since I was issued a pager on the SWAT team. She has lived with the phone and pager carving into our personal life for a long time; I am looking forward to not having to ponder so many solutions to so many problems because they occupy your mind a lot. I am looking forward to passing that on to my replacement and the flip side is that I already know that I will miss the people. So there are a lot of good people that I work with and not just at the Sheriff Department or RPS but City staff and the community that we serve and that we work with.”
There are many memories he takes with him, some good and some bad, but the one thing he will miss the most is the people. As he rides off into the sunset to pursue new adventures without the rigid schedule and high demand of police work, the dawn of new day will arise and a new chapter will begin for Kiely and his family.