Seven Springfield PD Officers Retire After 25 Years of Service

The Springfield Police Department announced the retirement of seven officers who have spent 25 years serving the community.

Each of the seven were members of the 39th Police Academy, graduating and joining the force in 1995. Upon retirement, the officers were all nominated and approved for the SPD’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

“I am very proud of the outstanding careers of each of these dedicated police officers and their absence will be felt at SPD,” Springfield PD Chief Paul Williams said in a statement. “However, I know their impact within the department has been broad and they will serve as an example to our younger officers. I thank them for their service and wish them the best of luck in retirement.” 

The SPD provided the following profiles of the seven officers who will be leaving the force:

Major Greg Higdon 

Major Higdon began his career as a Patrol Officer. During that time, he served as a Field Training Officer, training new academy graduates. He was also a member of the full-time Special Response Team (Red Team) among other roles.

Major Higdon was promoted to Corporal in 2001 and served in the Criminal Investigations Unit as a Detective in the Persons Crimes Section, investigating cases involving Sexual Assaults, Missing Persons, Domestic Assaults, and Robbery/Homicide.

In 2006 he was promoted to Sergeant and moved back to the Uniform Operations Bureau, working as a patrol supervisor and then as the Special Response Team Supervisor. In 2009, Major Higdon was promoted to Lieutenant, working in Patrol and as the Special Response Team and Community Services Section Commander.

He was promoted to Captain in 2013 and served as the UOB-Zone 2 Division Commander.  In 2017 he was promoted to Major and worked as the Bureau Commander over both the Uniform Operations Bureau and Investigations and Support Services Bureau until his retirement.

During his career, Major Higdon graduated from the FBI National Academy, PERF’s Senior Management Institute for Police, and Leadership Springfield, (Class 30) among many other accomplishments.

Captain Kevin Grizzell 

Captain Grizzell began his police career in 1989 after graduating from the SPD Reserve Academy. He worked in Patrol as a reserve before attending the 39th SPD Police Academy where he was honored as the class valedictorian in 1995.  Captain Grizzell worked as a Patrol Officer and Field Training Officer, training new academy graduates, until 2001 when he was promoted to Corporal.

As a Corporal he served as the Resource Management Officer, serving as the SPD recruiter while also responsible for maintaining SPD’s accreditation and updating the Standard Operating Guidelines system.

Captain Grizzell promoted to Sergeant in 2002 and worked as a patrol supervisor and then as the Community Oriented Policing sergeant, working out of the Commercial Street substation.

In 2008 he promoted to Lieutenant and served as a patrol shift commander before transferring to the Criminal Investigations Property Section in 2012. In 2018 he was promoted to Captain and has served as the commander over SPD Zone 1 Patrol Division and Traffic Section.

During his career, Captain Grizzell received two Command Commendations- one for achieving a high level of DWI arrests in a year and the other for action taken to help save a suicidal person. He represented Lieutenants on the SPD Leadership Council, attended the first Leadership Springfield Access class, and graduated from the Missouri Police Chief’s Command College, among other accomplishments.

Lieutenant Chris Wells 

Lt. Chris Wells began his time at the Springfield Police Department as a cadet, volunteering for four years before beginning the Police Academy as a 20-year-old recruit and graduating in 1995. After graduating, he served as a Patrol Officer, as an officer in the Community Services Section and as a member of the Special Response Team.

After being promoted to Corporal, Lt. Wells continued his work in the Patrol Unit. He later served as an investigator in the Criminal Investigations Section and finally as a member of the Special Response Team.  

Upon promotion to Sergeant, he worked as a patrol supervisor and in the SPD training section. In 2017 he was promoted to Lieutenant. As a Lieutenant, Lt. Wells worked as a patrol shift commander, the Special Response Team Commander, and in the Support Services Section where he served as the Department Safety Officer.

Lt. Wells is also a member of the US Naval Reserves and was deployed to the middle east during Operation Enduring Freedom in 2011. He is commissioned as a Naval Intelligence Officer and is works for the US Transportation Command at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois.

Lt. Wells is a graduate of the Missouri Police Chief’s Command College, among other accomplishments.

Lieutenant Mark Schindler 

Lt. Mark Schindler began his career with SPD in the Patrol Unit, where he served for four years. In 1997 he began working part-time with the Special Response Team (Blue Team) and in 2000 he was assigned to the full-time Special Response Team (Red Team).

Lt. Schindler transferred to the Training Unit as a range instructor in 2006 and in 2010 he became the department Recruiting Officer.

Lt. Schindler was promoted to Sergeant in 2014 and then to Lieutenant in 2018, serving in Patrol as a squad supervisor and shift commander.

Sergeant Justin Gargus 

Sergeant Justin Gargus worked as a patrol officer for five years after graduating from the academy. During that time, he worked as a Field Training Officer, training new academy graduates, and as a Major Crime Scene Investigator. 

In 2000, Sgt. Gargus was selected for a detective position with the Criminal Investigations Division Task Force. He was promoted to Corporal in early 2001 and transferred to the Property Crimes Unit. During his time in the Criminal Investigations Division, Sgt. Gargus also served on the Major Crime Scene Response Team

He was promoted to Corporal in 2006 and served in the Special Investigations Unit (SIU).

After being promoted to Sergeant in 2009, he served as a patrol squad supervisor before moving back to the Special Investigations Section in 2010, where he has served for the last 10 years. For his work, Sgt. Gargus was named the 2019 Midwest Gang Investigator’s Association’s Officer of the Year. He was honored by the local Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution with the Law Enforcement Commendation medal upon his retirement

Sergeant David Stone 

After graduating from the academy, Sgt. Dave Stone worked as a patrol officer until 2001. During that time, he was honored as his squad’s Outstanding Officer of the Year for two consecutive years and was awarded a PD Command Commendation Award for drug enforcement efforts.

In 2001 Sgt. Stone served as the Crime Stoppers Coordinator before being promoted to the rank of Corporal in 2002. As a Corporal he served in SPD’s Property Crimes Unit and in 2006 he became part of the Cyber Crimes Unit, being named the Acting Sergeant of the unit in 2011. 

In 2013 he was promoted to Sergeant and was assigned to the Uniform Operations Bureau as a patrol supervisor. Sgt. Stone was working the night Officer Aaron Pearson was shot and he received a Command Commendation Award for his performance that night. 

Sgt. Stone was selected as the Inspections and Internal Affairs Unit supervisor in 2017, where he served until his retirement.

Corporal Chris Welsh 

Corporal Chris Welsh has served his department, his community and his fellow officers in a number of capacities during his time at SPD.  During his 25 years, Cpl. Welsh helped lead the inception of SPD’s Crisis Intervention Team, working to assist people experiencing mental health crisis. He was named the National Alliance for Mental Illness Crisis Intervention Officer of the Year in 2016.

Serving the majority of his career in patrol, Cpl. Welsh received the following Department Awards for his efforts: Meritorious Service Medal-2003, Command Commendation-2008, Meritorious Service Medal -2011, Life Saving Medal -2012.

He was promoted to Corporal in 2014 and was assigned to the Community Services Section as the Special Events Coordinator.

Cpl. Welsh has served as the president of the FOP Lodge 22/Springfield Police Officers Association (SPOA) since 2015, helping to negotiate significant increases in pay and benefits for SPD officers, corporals, and sergeants.  During his time with the SPOA, he also helped create a mental wellness program that provides free anonymous professional counseling for all members and their families.

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