By Tamas Mondovics
After four decades with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, it is now time for District IV, Major Ron Hartley to focus his attention on family including his three grandchildren, while making time for more hunting, fishing and boating.
As the longest-serving full-time law enforcement officer in Hillsborough County, Hartley, 63, has turned in his badge earlier this year to end a career any law enforcement office would be more than proud of.
Hartley’s retirement from the force was celebrated with a party befitting his longevity and success while commending his 450-square-mile district and its 280,000 residents.
“When I started at the Sheriff’s Office in 1974, I had no idea it would last for over 40 years,” Hartley wrote to his family at the Sheriff’s Office Alumni Association, adding, “I have never regretted one day of that 40 years.”
Hartley was considered by many as a great fit for the communities he served under four sheriffs; Malcolm Beard, Walter Heinrich, Cal Henderson and the County’s current Sheriff, David Gee, who has known Hartley for the majority of his time with the office.
“I have known Ron Hartley for over 37 years,” Gee said. “He is probably one of the most natural law enforcement officers and dedicated public servants ever. He understands the community by getting involved with the community.”
Residents benefitted by Hartley’s presence far beyond his good fit. When asked, many of his colleagues are quick to describe him the same way; “a laid back old-fashioned, no-nonsense, tough cop.”
“He is an all around great guy who was always true to his word and wants to get things done,” said District IV Bloomingdale Community Resource Deputy Curtis Warren, who has known Hartley for more than 30 years.
In 1969, at age 17, Hartley graduated from Turkey Creek High and joined the Coast Guard, to become the youngest first class petty officer. He attended Hillsborough Community College (HCC) before applying to the sheriff’s office and was hired by Sheriff Beard on October 1, 1974 as a patrol officer, which at the time meant watching over the entire County.
In 1979 Hartley earned an Associate’s with honors in criminal justice from HCC and a Bachelor’s in education in 1981 from the University of South Florida.
In 2004, Hartley was promoted to lieutenant of District IV and captain in 2007, after which Gee promoted him to major in 2009 replacing Major John Marsicano.
Hartley seems to be most proud of sharing in the sheriff’s office’s success of cutting crime rate by nearly half, thanks to intelligence-led policing promoted by Sheriff Gee, which involves focusing on the worst repeat offenders.
Robert Bullara, a 35-year veteran with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, now continues Hartley’s job as District IV Major.
Hartley may be saying goodbye to his office, but by no means to his colleagues, friends and the good times he shared.
“It’s a huge loss for the department,” Gee said. “I really hate to see him go.”
For information, call the station at 635-8040 or visit www.hcso.tampa.fl.us.
Photo: Hillsborough County District IV Major Ron Hartley, (second left) enjoys the company of his colleagues Lieutenant Howard Wooden, Captain Steve Launikitis and Curtis Warren, during an event prior to his retirement from the Sheriff’s Office in January. Hartley served the County as a no nonsense cop for 40 years and is now looking forward to spending time with his family.