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Bloomington Police Chief To Retire After Year On The Job

Clay Wheeler
Amy Niebur
Retiring Bloomington Police Chief Clay Wheeler's last day will be June 21.

Bloomington Police Chief Clay Wheeler said Friday he plans to retire in June after just a year on the job, citing his wife's cancer diagnosis and a desire to "go enjoy life."

Wheeler was appointed in May 2018 after Brendan Heffner retired to become U.S. Marshal for the Central District of Illinois. Wheeler's last day will be June 21.

Wheeler said he had planned to serve as chief for several years.

"However, serious family health issues have led me to change those plans," he said in a statement Friday. "My wife was diagnosed with cancer a month after I took over as chief, and while she is well on her way to recovery, her struggle with cancer has led me to this decision. It is time to put family first and go enjoy life."

Wheeler has been with the Bloomington Police Department since 1991, starting as a third-shift patrolman and moving to field-training officer and hostage negotiator, detective in the criminal investigation division for 13 years, sergeant, lieutenant, and assistant chief in 2011.

City Manager Tim Gleason, who also has a law enforcement background, praised Wheeler for serving "with honor and integrity."

"However, I understand family comes first. While this will be a time of transition for the department, I have full confidence in our dedicated team of public safety professionals," Gleason said.

Overall crime is on the decline in Bloomington and has been for several years. However, a recent uptick in gun violence has residents increasingly concerned. The latest fatal shooting was Tuesday night on Bloomington's east side.

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Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.
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