Denison residents got a chance to meet the city’s lone finalist for top cop Thursday night in a public meet-and-greet with the police department’s soon-to-be chief, Mike Gudgel. The event was held from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at Denison City Hall and was attended by local residents, area law enforcement, elected officials and other city staff.


Gudgel currently serves as deputy chief for the Grand Prairie Police Department and is set to fill the vacancy left by former Denison Police chief Jay Burch, who retired in February.


“I’m going to be a visible chief,” Gudgel said. “Be prepared to see me and when you do, please, say ‘Hi.’”


Gudgel joined Grand Prairie Police as a patrol officer in 1992 and has served various roles within the department ranging from narcotics to major crimes. He was promoted to the rank of sergeant in 2004 and became a supervisor over regular and special patrols as well as major crimes. As a lieutenant, Gudgel led community initiatives, including a neighborhood-enrichment team and National Night Out. He also assisted in managing school resource officers.


Gudgel currently oversees two shifts, 60 officers, eight sergeants and two lieutenants.


In an emailed news release distributed Monday, the city said it hired Strategic Government Resources to recruit for the position and ultimately selected Gudgel from a field of 67 applicants, hailing from 18 states.


“I think the real thing that sets him apart is that he’s community minded,” Denison City Manager Jud Rex said. “So, he’s going to bring a community-policing approach to Denison, which we’ve not had before and really just take our department to the next level.”


Interim Denison Police Chief Paul Neumann said he was glad to lead the department for the past four months and would continue to do so until July 8. Neumann said he feels confident in the chosen new chief.


“It was a no-brainer that he was the right person,” Neumann said. “He’s coming from a department of excellence and joining another great department.”


Gudgel said he is proud to have family ties to the Texoma area and is excited to find a new home in Denison.


“We look forward to the future of Denison,” Gudgel said of his family. “And I look forward to what our police department can offer the citizens, stakeholders and visitors of this city.”


Drew Smith is the crime and emergency reporter for the Herald Democrat. Contact him at asmith@heralddemocrat.com.