More Than a Badge
Photographer: Brian Brosmer
As a kid growing up on the west coast, Ed Gebhart and his buddies would play Cops & Robbers around the neighborhood. More often than not, Gebhart would lead the way on the cop side, tracking down his friends and serving justice to the “robbers.”
Today, Gebhart, the new Fishers Police Chief, is living a dream that he says really began in his childhood and developed more in his early adult years.
“Growing up we watched shows like ‘T.J. Hooker’ and ‘Chips’, those early T.V. shows probably inspired me more than anything,” Gebhart says. “My friends and I would go out on our bikes and play Cops & Robbers in the neighborhood and emulate those shows. I was always on the Cops side of things, and I didn’t mind that. I was very drawn to the police uniform itself, even at an early age.”
When he was 19 years old, Gebhart went on his first ride along, and he knew right away that his calling was in law enforcement.
“I was hooked,” he says. “I definitely knew where I was headed after that. I’m a guy that likes to be moving around a lot and on my feet, and the job gives you that.”
His resume and experience over the years speak for itself. By the time he was 21 years old, Gebhart was working in the sheriff’s office in Colorado. He moved to Fishers in 2000, where he has served on the SWAT team, patrol commander, assistant chief and more.
Gebhart has decades worth of experience tactically, operationally and on the administration side as well. He even attended the FBI National Academy back in 2012. Experience on both sides, he says, has prepared him for the role he is in today.
After serving for two years as assistant chief, Gebhart was officially sworn in on Sept. 7 as the new police chief. He took over the role after former chief Mitch Thompson resigned following a drunk driving incident.
Despite the sudden change, Gebhart was not thrown off his guard. Serving as assistant chief, and working under the previous chiefs, naturally prepared Gebhart for the role he is now in today. He says taking over as chief didn’t really hit him until the swearing-in ceremony.
“I don’t feel any different today than I did as the assistant chief,” he says. “I’m a part of a team coming into a job with a great group of people. That is how I feel every day. It doesn’t dawn on me generally that ‘you are the guy.’ But my swearing in was somewhat emotional. I got emotional because you think about all the different people that supported you along the way. I didn’t get to where I am today because of me, I’ve gotten here because of them.”
The tradition in law enforcement is that your mentor pins your collar brass, and they send you off.
“It is a big deal,” Gebhart says. “She pinned my collar because she helped me get through a college education, she’s raised our kids, she allows me to go do all these phenomenal things. It is our spouses that pick us up off the floor in a job that can be quite negative at times. There was a lot of emotion for me in that moment.”
Looking back throughout his career, Gebhart says police chief was never necessarily a goal he had written down to check off one day. Still, in his 24th year in law enforcement, he has found himself at the helm of a department that he calls his second home.
“In 1994 when I applied for my first job, I wrote down that I wanted to be a sergeant and a team leader of SWAT,” Gebhart says. “Those were my career goals. I didn’t think that those higher roles would be a possibility until maybe 2010.”
Gebhart takes over as chief during an exciting time for the Fishers Police Department. The city and the FPD recently celebrated the grand opening of the brand new 48,000 square foot headquarters.
The new station is located at the Municipal Complex across from City Hall and even includes a new public parking garage. The amenities are unlike anything the FPD has had in the past, including a full gym, new forensic labs, a huge evidence room, numerous interview rooms, office spaces, conference rooms and more.
“It is a good time to be a new chief because it all feels new,” Gebhart says. “Our staff has moved in and are getting adjusted. We are able to bring all of our resources home under one roof. Our child exploitation and computer forensics unit is here with us now. We are all here and working together. I am very excited about what we can achieve moving forward. We are going to continue doing great things as we have before. This new building sets the tone for that.”
Out of the uniform, Gebhart is a family man. If he isn’t fishing, he’s off on camping trips with the family or having friends over to relax and visit.
“We really don’t take ourselves too seriously,” he says. “We like to get out of town and away from cell phones and technology and enjoy the outdoors. You just try to enjoy as much out of life as you can. I’m not Chief Ed when I walk through the door at home. My family will humble me immediately.”
With 2018 goals already in place for the department, Gebhart says conversations are already starting about the department’s main goals for 2019 and beyond. For now, he assures that the FPD’s focus has been and always will be on the safety and protection of the Fishers community.
“We will keep moving along as we always have, doing the right things at the right time for the right reasons,” Gebhart says. “The police will always be there when the community needs them. For next year, we will look back at 2018 and see how we can get better. We will look and see what places that we fell short and can do a better job of moving forward.”