HAINES CITY – One day after Haines City Fire Chief Tim Mossgrove had his interim label removed, Jim Elensky got similar treatment.
“We have the opportunity to elevate a 27-year veteran of law enforcement,” City Manager Deric Feacher said. “James R. Elensky — we call him Jim. Some of us call him G.I. Joe.”
Elensky, 50, was sworn in as the new police chief in front of more than 100 people at the Haines City Police Department on Wednesday morning. Elensky has been with the department since March and interim chief since the beginning of October. He was pinned by Polk Sheriff Grady Judd.
“I want to thank you for having the confidence in me (to Feacher) and I’d be remiss not to thank Chief (Rick) Sloan and Sheriff Judd before that,” Elensky said. “We go way back to before the sheriff was way cool. Him saying yes (to pinning) meant a lot to me.”
Prior to coming to Haines City, Elensky spent 25 years with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. He worked his way up to captain and helped the agency get to a 100 percent clearance rate when it came to homicides before retiring in 2013 to take care of a sick family member.
“You’re not only getting a police chief, you’re getting a chief who cares about this community,” Judd said. “He will serve you right. It’s his promise to you; it’s my promise to you, because I know him.”
Judd noted that the Sheriff’s Office’s has been able to carry on what Elensky started. The homicide clearance rate has been at 100 percent for eight years in a row, Judd said.
“Jim Elensky is someone who absolutely went above and beyond,” Judd said. “When you assigned something to Jim, you didn’t have to go back to see if it got done. What you have in Jim Elensky is a chief for your police department who will set a positive example.”
Elensky thanked the people in attendance who helped him along the way, including former Sheriff’s Office Maj. Paul Baggett and former deputies under Elensky while he was captain of the bureau of criminal investigations.
“We got to 100 percent clearance not because of me, but because of my team,” Elensky said. “Without the team, you’re nothing. I look forward to working with the residents of Haines City and moving Haines City forward.”
Feacher made the decision to hire Elensky permanently early last month. At the beginning of the fiscal year, the city was without four permanent department directors and a city manager. With Feacher hired and Mossgrove and Elensky recently sworn in, the only two vacancies are in Parks and Recreation and Utilities.
“Today is a very special day in the history of the Haines City Police Department,” Capt. Keva Harris said. “We are proud of our chief. He encourages our officers to have positive interactions with the community we serve.”
Elensky will replace Gary Hester, with whom he also worked at the Sheriff’s Office. Hester resigned in September after less than six months on the job.
“We really look forward to working with Jim,” State Attorney Brian Haas said. “Already the communication has been good and that’s what it’s all about in working with law enforcement. We’re blessed to have great law enforcement in this county. We’re excited and looking forward to have Jim as chief.”
Mike Ferguson can be reached at Mike.Ferguson@directgates.com or 863-401-6981. Follow Mike on Twitter@MikeWFerguson.