By MICHELLE CASADY
The Caldwell City Council unanimously approved Danny McElroy as the new chief of police one day after the completion of his standard six-month probationary period.
"We'd known for a while we wanted him to be chief," City Administrator Billy Clemons said. "We just had to get him past that probationary period."
McElroy was named interim chief Feb. 17 after former Chief Paul Lilly was fired by the council. The council has never disclosed the reason for Lilly's dismissal.
Lilly has protested the firing. He filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking reinstatement. The suit was dismissed, and he filed a motion to reconsider.
McElroy has been with the Caldwell Police Department since 1991. Before that, he served the communities of Hearne and Somerville. His law enforcement career spans 23 years.
"Ever since I started in law enforcement I've wanted to be a chief," McElroy said. "And I thank the council for giving me the opportunity to do that."
The Caldwell department offers retirement after 20 years of service, and McElroy is just two years shy of that.
"I don't plan on leaving Caldwell. I'll be here till I die or they get rid of me," he said, laughing. "I can retire in two years, but I'm not planning on it."
Some administrative changes have been made under McElroy's leadership. Two officers received promotions. He said the department's commitment to community policing would remain the same.
"We're happy with the job he's done thus far," Clemons said. "The people of the town seem to like and respect him, and the people he works with do, too. So it works out well."
But the new chief isn't letting the praise go to his head.
"It's kind of weird, because I still patrol and do everything I used to do," he said. "I've just got a little more responsibility now."