Highly Popular & Respected Police Chief Ken Giles Ends Service That Began In 1972
Ken Giles says he has been fortunate to serve his community in police service since 1972.
He retired as chief of the Saugatuck-Douglas Police Department at the end of 2016.
Giles said he supports the idea behind a proposed police/fire authority with the intent of enhancing police and emergency services.
That proposal has currently been put on the back-burner by tri-community leaders (the cities of Saugatuck and Douglas and Saugatuck Township) in order to gauge their respective needs before jumping into a joint venture.
The popular and highly respected former police chief likes the notion of asking the public for input about what it feels is adequate police service and even subscribes to the idea of having a police millage to support that service.
That idea comes at a time when the Allegan County police budget continues to shrink.
The county provides Saugatuck Township with its only officially designated police coverage which is severely limited due to budget constraints.
The county sheriff’s department also helps respond to police calls, when needed, in the cities of Saugatuck and Douglas.
Saugatuck Township is not officially served by the Saugatuck-Douglas Police Department as it has repeatedly over the years decided to opt out of that coverage citing a desire to keep township tax rates low for its constituents.
Township officials, however, have recently been entertaining the idea and studying whether to join in with its two neighboring cities for that police coverage.
“I retired (previously) in 2003, but then they (City of the Village of Douglas) gave me the opportunity (in 2007) I couldn’t refuse (to become its police chief), noted Giles.
“It’s been a blessing; I grew up here and know a lot of people here,” he said.
Incidentally, it’s been a family affair to represent the department in the top role.
“There has been a Giles as chief since 1973; it’s in your blood,” he noted, referring to his older brother, Bill Giles, who served 20 years in the post and his father, Embrit Giles, before that, from 1973 to 1986.
Ken is graduate of Saugatuck High School, served in the U.S. Marine Corps, and was part of the Allegan County Sheriff’s Department for 30 years as a road patrol deputy, sergeant and road patrol supervisor.
Furthermore, he was administrator of the Sheriff’s marine and snowmobile divisions as well as head of the department’s dive team.
Asked about the tri-community’s proposed police/fire authority, a project that would combine police, fire and first emergency responders, Ken said, “I would ask people want they want.
“Personally, I’d like to answer calls within five minutes,” he added about the current average response time of the department.
He said he is pleased with the service his department has delivered to Saugatuck and Douglas residents, “but then we do have to take complaints from outside the city (Saugatuck Township and elsewhere when needed, regardless of whether residents in those area are helping pay for the that police service.)”
Ken Giles gave the oath of office to Interim Police Chief Steve Kent during Tuesday night’s meeting.
“I am leaving the department in very capable hands; Sgt. Steve Kent has been here for 30 year,” said Giles.