Police officer retires after 5 decades

William C. Gustkey Sr., who recently retired as police chief in East Taylor Township, is shown on July 27, 2017.

 Editor’s note: Front Lines is a monthly feature profiling individuals who, as first responders, help others in a crisis. They may be police officers, firefighters, paramedics, emergency medical technicians or volunteers. Suggestions for Front Lines can be emailed to Patrick Buchnowski at pbuchnowski@tribdem.com.

After wearing a police badge for more than five decades, William C. Gustkey Sr. has retired.

Gustkey, 74, retired July 18 as police chief in East Taylor Township. He had been with the police department for three years.

Front Lines

Gustkey acknowledged that he leaves with mixed feelings.

Gustkey said he was on sick leave when supervisors told him that he was no longer in charge. 

“I was notified by one of the supervisors they were taking off as chief and putting someone else in charge,” he said.

That prompted him to retire about six months earlier than planned.

“It’s a bitter sweet pill to swallow,” he said. “I’m disappointed.”

His son, William Gustkey Jr. was acting chief in his absence.

He, too, has resigned.

Gustkey’s first job as a cop came in 1963 as an officer with the Franklin Borough Police Department.

It was a job he gladly accepted shortly after graduating from Franklin High School.

“I was working for the Franklin Borough street department when the chief stopped me one day and said, ‘Hey, I understand you’re interested in being a police officer.’

“I said ‘yes sir.’ ”

Two months later, in August 1963, Gustkey was sworn in by the justice of the peace.

“The chief handed me a ticket book and a hat and said, ‘You’re a police officer,’ ” Gustkey recalled. “I thought, ‘Cool.’ ”

He was hired in 1978 by the East Conemaugh Borough Police Department and graduated from the Greater Johnstown Police Academy.

Gustkey has also worked for police departments in Jackson and Blacklick townships and Nanty Glo, Portage and Vintondale. He was hired by East Taylor Township in 2015. 

Retired township Supervisor Bob Spanko remembers Gustkey as a fine police chief.

“I thought Bill did a fantastic job,” he said. “He was well-organized, and the other officers really like him.”

Gustkey said he believes the department had a 100 percent conviction rate during his three years. 

“We had no cases thrown out,” he said. “Even traffic citations. They would either plead guilty or the magistrate found them guilty.”

Gustkey said during his law enforcement career, he’s always tried to be impartial.

“I just want to be remembered as a fair and just person,” he said. “I always tried to be fair and impartial. I tried to treat people like I would want to be treated.

Gustkey thanked the community for their support.

“I would like the people of Franklin, East Conemaugh and East Taylor Township to know how much I appreciated the chance to work for them,” he said. “I hope I did a good job for them.” 

Patrick Buchnowski is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 532-5061. Follow him on Twitter @PatBuchnowskiTD.

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