New Middletown Police Chief Ed Blaser Is Building the Force From the Ground Up
As Middletown City Officials decided to form a police department in January, one of the first orders of business was to hire a Chief of Police who would be up to the task of building a new force.
Middletown Mayor Byron Chapman interviewed the top three candidates and said retired LMPD officer Ed Blaser stood out for several reasons.
“Ed is very personable, friendly, and he has a lot of experience, so he knows who to contact if he needs additional help,” Chapman says. “He knows how it is to work with people and to be a team with our residents.”
Blaser, who had moved to the private sector after a 26-year career with LMPD, had retired as Security Director at Keeneland Racecourse in Lexington just months before applying for the Middletown job.
“I was around the house for a short period of time, and partly out of boredom and part my wife saying I needed something to do, I interviewed for the job,” Blaser says. “I thought this would be an exciting challenge to get the department started and on the right path.”
Born and raised in Louisville, Blaser was a 1973 graduate of St. Xavier High School, where he played football. He went on to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Police Administration from the University of Louisville in 1984, completing school while balancing family responsibilities.
Blaser and his wife, Karen, have been married for 41 years, and have four children who are now adults out on their own. Karen is retired as a teacher in the Louisville Catholic Schools district.
“About eight years ago, my kids were all in college at the same time, which was hard,” Blaser says.
Despite the hefty tuition payments, Blaser’s love and pride for his children are evident. His face lights up as he explains that two of his children — daughter Laura and his son Mark — are attorneys, his son Danny teaches at St. X and Bellarmine University, and his daughter Emily has a Doctorate of English and lives in London.
While it can be hard to see his children regularly — especially Mark and Emily who live out of town — Blaser makes time for phone calls nearly every day and gets great joy out of spending time with his grandchildren.
“The best thing for me right now is spending time with my grandkids,” says Blaser, a proud grandpa to three with more on the way.
Family has always been important to the Blasers, and the role of family played a major part in shaping Blaser’s career.
Blaser knew some Louisville police officers growing up who he had a lot of respect for and decided to pursue that route instead.
“I enjoy law enforcement and truly enjoyed being a Louisville police officer,” Blaser says. “I had a career, and I felt blessed.”
Blaser was hired by the Louisville Division of Police in 1977 and was marked as a leader from the get-go. He was named president of his academy class and was the first officer in his class to be promoted to sergeant, taking command of the newly-formed Traffic Alcohol Program Unit (TAP).
“Police played a major part in addressing the drunk driving problems in the US, specifically in Louisville, and that was important to me,” Blaser says. “There is a big difference statistically when you look at the number of alcohol-involved accidents before and after TAP and MADD.”
From there he was promoted to Lieutenant and selected as Deputy Commander of the newly-formed Metro Narcotics Unit in 1990.
“That was one of the biggest moments in my career because that narcotics unit even today is one of the strongest investigative units in the state, not just Louisville,” says Blaser, who oversaw 54 officers.
His final promotion was to LT Colonel where he served as the Operations Commander over all uniform officers in the Division of Police.
“Being the operations commander for four years was an opportunity most people don’t get,” Blaser says. “You can affect so many things when you’re in charge of all the districts and units. It was nice to be involved with so many officers’ lives and careers.”
Blaser retired as the Associate Chief of Police after 26 years of service and says he has nothing but good memories from his time with LMPD. Shortly after retiring, he transitioned into the private sector as the Director of Security of Churchill Downs, then worked over 10 years as Security Director at Keeneland.
At 63 years old, Blaser is not sure how many working years he has ahead of him but strives to make a difference in his time leading the Middletown Police Department.
“This is just a new road on my journey,” he says. “This is a completely different challenge for me, and no one has tried to start a new police department in Kentucky in a long time.”
Blaser is tasked with building the department from the ground up, including the development of standard operating procedures, procurement of vehicles and equipment, training protocols, hiring more officers and more.
“We recognize our deficiencies, recognize our strengths, and we have requested direction and support from the right people,” Blaser says. “My desire is for this department to be a complete success, doing whatever I can do to give them the right kind of foundation and hire the right kind of people who are going to represent the community’s needs.”
As of early June, the department had just one other officer, Rob Herman, who also serves as training coordinator. The department’s officers will receive specialized training in use of force and less lethal methods and ALICE active shooter training.
While the Middletown department currently acts as a supplemental force to the LMPD eighth division that already patrols the area, Blaser wants to ensure his officers are ready to help in any situation that arises.
“I don’t want to have an issue because we have failed to address the best training available to us,” he says. “We may be the first responder in emergency situations, and if you’re the first responder your actions really matter.”
The department operates out of city hall, with limited patrol hours of 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays only, but residents can reach out with any problems they have at 502-365-1900. During their first full month of patrol in May, Blaser and Herman combined for 26 reports and backed up LMPD in other cases.
“The other departments around have been extremely supportive,” says Blaser, noting the Jeffersontown Police Department has been an especially big help. “They understand our numbers are small and we are taking baby steps.”
It’s also a learning process for the department. The officers issued several parking citations before realizing the tickets did not include information necessary to pay for the violation.
But all in all, the future is bright for the new force.
“I’ve been very pleased with Ed, what a compliment to the city to have a police chief who really cares,” Chapman says. “He wants to do the right thing and help people out.”
Blaser, Chapman and the City Council plan to see how things go with the department this year, including the addition of more officers, before committing to long-term goals.
“With our city’s growth and expansion, we can afford to grow the department, and we don’t want to get behind on the curve,” Chapman says.
In the meantime, Blaser looks forward to continuing to grow relationships with the residents of Middletown and assembling a staff of qualified officers who buy into the department’s mission and values.
“We’re here for the community service, and that’s why in the long run people are going to recognize there are so many things this department can do for them,” Blaser says. “I really do appreciate the people of Middletown. With all the problems in the world and all the problems law enforcement is having, when the community appreciates what you’re doing it makes you feel good and makes you realize there are a lot of people who are supportive.”