By Nancy Price
This Friday, Aug. 28, friends, family and colleagues will gather at the Greenwood Amphitheater to celebrate Greenwood Police Chief John Laut’s last day with the department.
There will be a private celebration at 11 a.m., when Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers will issue a proclamation, followed by a final signoff and swearing in the new Greenwood Police Chief James Ison. Currently a deputy chief, Ison has been with the department for more than three decades. At 3 p.m., friends, family and acquaintances are invited to the Amphitheater for a second celebration.
Several of Laut’s colleagues discussed memories of working with him over the years, including his successor, James Ison. “I will always appreciate the encouragement that I received from John to attend the FBI National Academy,” Ison said. “John attend this 10-week leadership academy himself in 2006. I was at first apprehensive about leaving my wife and children for 10 weeks, but finally heeded to John’s urging. Without a doubt it was the most transformative career decision I have made. I am grateful for John’s leadership, but most grateful for his friendship.”
Laut and Ison were also the first officers from the Greenwood Police Department to attend the Major Event Planning course in San Diego. They were also commanders of the annual Freedom Festival for more than a decade. “I will also remember the near catastrophic golf cart debacles that nearly killed us both while patrolling this event,” Ison recalled with amusement. “I would be remiss not to also mention the killer honeybee that stung John in the forehead during one such debacle.”
Matt Fillenwarth, assistant chief of police, has worked with the GPD for more than 25 years. Laut was one of Fillenwarth’s field training officers. They served together in the Investigations Division as detectives.
“John chose me to be his assistant chief of police and that is the position I have held along with John for almost the past nine years,” said Fillenwarth. “John and I have weathered many a storm together and I think we have led the department in a positive direction. I will dearly miss John after his retirement. He has not only been a great chief to work for but is also a dear friend!”
Myers, who has been close friends with Laut since they worked together in security in 1987, said Laut brought the training of officers to a much higher level. “He has helped our department grow from 58 officers to 71,” Myers said. “John has been a very dedicated officer and he will be missed by all.”