Last week, the Huxley City Council made it official. Sgt. Gerry Stoll, a 26-year veteran of the local police department (two of those as a reserve officer) was named Huxley’s new police chief.
“It hasn’t hit me yet,” he said when asked a few days after the Tuesday council meeting, where he was sworn in, how he felt about being the new chief.
Stoll, 51, who grew up south of Boone and graduated from United Community Schools, has had ties to the Huxley community throughout his life. “My grandparents were from Huxley and my dad graduated from Ballard,” he said. When it came time to raise his own children, he felt Huxley was a great place to be.
Before officially starting work as a full-time Huxley Police Officer back in 1994, Stoll served in the United States Navy, did work as a sprinkler fitter apprentice and did a little work in the electrical field. But law enforcement had always intrigued him. “My grandpa was a retired police officer, so I started going to DMACC (for some training) and applying at different places (for law enforcement work)… My dad suggested to talk the Huxley chief, so I went over and talked to Nels Nord (chief at the time).” That talk helped him get on as a reserve, and later as a full-time officer.
In 2006, Stoll was named the first sergeant in the Huxley Police Department’s history. The position was created because the community and department were both getting larger. As sergeant, Stoll became former Chief Mark Pote’s support person and lead investigator.
Working for Pote, he described, was an honor. “He was a very compassionate man,” Stoll said of the former chief. “He was one of those guys who always carried money with him and if someone needed money, he would give it to them. He’d give you the shirt off his back.”
Stoll shares that compassionate type of attitude when it comes to law enforcement. Certainly, the job calls for being tough when needed, but Stoll said his reason for serving as a law enforcement officer is more about sticking up for underdogs. “I like helping people who are victims,” he said.
Law enforcement is something he and his wife, Janet, have in common. Janet is a 28-year veteran of the Story County Sheriff’s Office, where she has worked as a dispatcher. The two married a little later in life, but not just because saw each other often through law enforcement.
“I used to hang around with her stepbrothers when I was growing up, so I had met her once or twice (while growing up). But she was four years older than me and back then that was a big deal,” he said. It’s not a big deal at all now. “We enjoy each others’ company; she’s my best friend.” And they share several pastimes they are both passionate about.
First, there’s wildlife. The couple lives north of Huxley on land Gerry purchased from his grandparents. “We have about three acres of natural prairie — one acre is residential and the other acres are set aside as conservation land. We kind of have a hobby of raising ring-necked pheasants and releasing them back into the prairie when they’re fully grown. Ballard Creek runs through the back of our area too, so it’s a good ecosystem for wildlife.”
Second, there are motorcycles. “We both enjoy riding,” he said, adding that they’ve basically traveled America on their Harleys. “You feel free, you smell everything, you feel everything, you hear everything — it’s a wonderful way to travel… My dad got me hooked on it. He put me on a motorcycle when I was a year old.”
Janet also drives a bike.
“Janet started riding in about 2008. We were on a family vacation and she said, ‘I want to learn to drive a motorcycle.’ She went down to DMACC got her license and did the course and has been riding ever since. She’s really never been a passenger,” he said.
They’ve had all kinds of time together on their bikes and they’ve done some challenges, too. “Last year for my 50th birthday we did the Iron Butt Challenge, where you do a thousand miles within 24 hours,” he said. “We went up to Fargo, N.D., and turned around and came on back… did it in about 19 hours. And we did have sore butts!”
That earned them a spot in the Iron Butt Association. “That’s (doing the challenge) the only way you can become a member. You pay the fee to do the challenge and then you’re in for life,” he said.
Through motorcycling, Stoll also gives back to officers in need. “I belong to a nonprofit public safety motorcycle club that raises money for officers…,” he said. “It’s the Iron Warriors.”
Riding the bike is something he feels he’ll do for many years into the future, as he said there are more challenges he wants to try in retirement.
But first, there’s some work ahead of him as the leader of the Huxley PD. Directly in front of the department, he said, is preparation work for the new radio system with Story County. “They’re thinking about getting everybody online the fall of 2019…so we’re working on that.”
And he wants to get his officers more and more involved in the business of the PD. During his time as “interim chief,” “I’ve made them take on different types of tasks. I assigned one as an investigator, put one in charge of grants and I have a go-to guy who will do anything needed working on ordinance violations, forms and such… He really helps out a lot getting us into the 21st century. I’ve got a good bunch of people to make me look like this job (as chief) is pretty darn easy.”
The Huxley PD is made up of five full-time officers, including the chief; plus two part-time officers and two reserves, who help with a variety of things like business events, traffic control and parades. This will also be the first year that Huxley PD officers, both regular and reserve, will get to help at Iowa State Football games.
When it comes to what the community should know about Stoll, he said simply, “I’m a listener and I want to help people… (I’m the) same old ‘Ger’.”
He is glad he got the job as chief. “I really enjoy the community. I have roots here. I have friends I consider family here. My wife and I have built a life here. We built a house here. I raised my three boys here (Adam Crudele, Sean Stoll and Jesse Stoll). I plan on staying here for the rest of my days.”