Chief Robert Helton will retire from his duties with the Gastonia Police Department (GPD) effective Oct. 1. He was promoted to Chief of Police on Oct. 1, 2014 and has served the Department for nearly 34 years, with six of those as Chief of Police.
Chief Helton said his retirement was motivated by his desire to seek new challenges in his life and it was a tough decision. “After much prayer and consideration, I thought it was time to move to the next chapter in my life and also spend more time with my family,” he said.
“I love this City and it has been an honor to serve with many great law enforcement professionals. I have also deeply appreciated the support of our community leaders, the City’s leadership, our Mayor and City Council members.”
Chief Helton began his career as a Patrol Officer in 1987, was promoted to Sergeant in 1998, Captain in 2006, and Assistant Chief in 2011. He has been a leader in field operations, criminal and juvenile investigations, community- and problem-oriented policing, crisis response, and community relations. One of his many accomplishments was to partner with members of the Gaston Clergy & Citizens Coalition (GC3) to develop a covenant between the GPD and the community. For the past five years, the covenant titled, “A Covenant Between the Gaston Clergy & Citizens Coalition and Gaston County Law Enforcement” has been a model for how the Department conducts community outreach and involvement during critical events.
“Chief Helton has served our City and our community with the highest amount of integrity and commitment,” Mayor Walker Reid, III said on behalf of City Council. “He will remain a friend and colleague of the City of Gastonia.”
The City will begin its search for Chief Helton’s replacement soon to maintain continuity. “It is important for us to choose the right person who is committed to our community and our operations,” said City Manager Michael Peoples.
Chief Helton was born and raised in Gastonia and graduated from Ashbrook High School. He earned an associate degree in Criminal Justice from Gaston College and a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from Gardner Webb (Summa Cum Laude). He is a graduate of the 221st Session of the FBI National academy in 2005 and received an Advanced Law Enforcement Certificate from the State of North Carolina. In addition, he is a member of the Rotary Club of Gastonia and has served on the advisory board for The Shelter of Gaston County.