At the Jan. 8 Board of Alderman meeting, Gary Hoelzer officially stepped down from the role of city administrator and was sworn back in as the city’s police chief.
Police Chief Patrick Kranz retired in August 2017.
“The past few years, I have really been desiring to get back into law enforcement,” said Hoelzer, who has after over 37 years of experience in the field. “That’s really my calling and passion.”
Hoelzer’s position as city administrator was preceded by John Copeland, who spent over 30 years with the city and served as both the city administrator and police chief in May 2013. Copeland’s departure marked the city’s ongoing decision to keep the positions separate; however, since Kranz’s retirement, Hoelzer had been filling in as interim police chief. A recent discussion with Mayor John Dalton set in motion Hoelzer’s return to policing full time.
“We were going through the budget process and discussing what the municipal organization was going to look like; we decided that really we should keep the police chief and city administrator positions separate,” Hoelzer said. “In the 21st century, you really need a full-time city administrator and a full-time chief of police, and because of my desire to get back in the police scene, the mayor made the suggestion, which I fully agreed with, to move [me] back to the police department.”
Also on Jan. 8, Bob Shelton, who previously served as city manager in Frontenac and assistant city manager in Brentwood, was appointed to the position of city administrator.
Hoelzer said the mayor and he talked about him serving in a dual capacity like John Copeland, but that they decided “in a city as large as Town & Country and [with] the size of its police department, both sides of the hallway deserve equal attention via a professional administrator and chief.”
“[The transition] was really easy after that conversation,” Hoelzer said. “It allowed me to get back to my passion, and it allowed the city to reach out and hire someone with as great of a track record as Bob Shelton. I think it’s a great move for the city because municipal government and municipal services are his passion, so you’re getting two individuals that have the resumes and also the desire, and services can be more focused.”
Hoelzer got his start as a police officer with the St. Louis County Police Department in 1980. He was sworn in as a Town & Country police officer in 1985, just two years after the department’s formation in 1983. Hoelzer moved up the ranks, serving as a sergeant, lieutenant and finally as the operational captain from 1997 until his appointment to city administrator in 2013.
Hoelzer holds a master’s degree in criminal justice from Central Missouri State University and a bachelor’s degree in police administration from Missouri Baptist University. In 2001, Hoelzer graduated from the FBI National Academy for police executives. He teaches multiple classes at Missouri Baptist University and Maryville University and lessons to officers and staff at the St. Louis County and Municipal Police Academy in Wellston.
“I’ve really never taken my hands away from policing,” Hoelzer said.
In addition, Hoelzer has served as the president of the Law Enforcement Officials of Greater St. Louis and published multiple articles on police operations with national law enforcement publications.
While working as city administrator helped reaffirm his administrative, organizational and leadership abilities, Hoelzer said the primary goal moving forward is continuing to prioritize citizen safety.
“Serving as the city administrator certainly broadened my experience, but when you get into policing, it really gets down to the basics,” Hoelzer said. “That’s really my primary focus.
“Our vision here in Town & Country is justice. When you look at our vision statement, justice means that every member of the community has the opportunity to participate in and enjoy all the benefits of living in this great community without the fear of crime, and without the fear of their safety being jeopardized, and that’s why we really do what we do.”