Gus Hall was sworn in today as the 14th chief of the Akron Police Department.
Hall, 55, was a major and commander of the department's uniform patrol subdivision.
Mayor Don Plusquellic administered the oath of office at a ceremony in the roll call room on the fourth floor of police headquarters in downtown Akron.
Plusquellic said he is naming Hall as ''provisional chief of police.''
Later, the mayor said he was in the early stages of what previously had been described as a nationwide search for a new chief. He declined to elaborate.
Hall succeeds the man he called his ''best friend and first partner,'' Craig Gilbride, who retired today after 32 years of service — the last 11 months as chief.
Gilbride pinned the gold chief's shield on the left side of Hall's broad chest, and they shook hands and exchanged a warm embrace to applause from about 40 fellow officers, friends and family members of the two commanders.
The moment clearly touched Hall as he began his remarks.
''This is truly an honor,'' he said. ''I can't think of anybody's shoes that I'd rather fill than my best friend, Craig Gilbride. He's been the mentor throughout my career.
''He broke me in. He was my first partner. We've laughed together, cried together, bled together and we watched each other's children grow up.''
Hall noted that he and Gilbride slowly rose together through the ranks, from sergeant, to lieutenant, to captain, to major — the second-highest rank as one of the department's deputy chiefs.
''The only thing we didn't do together,'' Hall quipped, ''was that he went to St. V. [St. Vincent-St. Mary High School] and I went to Hoban. I don't know if he was smart enough to pass the entrance exam there.''
Hall, a former commander of the department's services subdivision, said his immediate goal will be ''to try to maintain the services we have with less money in today's economy.''
''I think we're up to the task,'' he said.
''We can go out there every day, each one of us, and be a community officer to get the support of the community. That's a key, I think, in my mind.''
Hall said he would support the mayor's efforts to go outside the department for a new chief and would not consider seeking the top position ''at this time.''
''I've got 29 years on the Police Department,'' Hall said, ''and I'm getting close to the end of my career. I can't foresee myself staying for more than a year or two.''
He said he would be willing to stay on and help during a transitional period once the mayor names a permanent chief.
Hall acknowledged that his emotions were difficult to overcome after Gilbride pinned on the gold shield, calling the honor ''overwhelming'' and ''humbling.''
He said he meant it when he described the times, as young officers, when he and Gilbride bled together.
''We were involved in a lot of resisting arrests when we were patrolmen together, which is not unusual for any police officer who's worked the streets,'' Hall said.
''It would be a wonderful world if you could talk every single person into getting into the back of a paddy wagon, but that's not the case.''
Ed Meyer can be reached at 330-996-3784 or email@example.com.