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Ocala picks Mike Balken to replace police chief killed in plane crash

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Audience members stand and applaud after Mike Balken is named Ocala police chief Tuesday night. Photo: Joe Byrnes

The Ocala City Council has approved Deputy Chief Mike Balken as the new police chief to replace Greg Graham who died in a plane crash last month.

As 90.7’s Joe Byrnes reports, Tuesday night’s unanimous vote came with support from union members, local pastors and Graham’s widow.

Amy Graham told the council her husband used to talk about his plans for police department employees.

And when he hoped to retire, he wanted Balken to lead the department, she said. That’s why Graham made him his deputy.

“Although he didn’t think it would be this soon,” she said, “he was intentionally preparing him. With that said, I want to express on behalf of Chief Graham and my family our support of Mike Balken as police chief. ”

After the vote, Balken rose to address the council, introducing himself as, quote, “Mike Balken, chief of police,” and the audience erupted in applause.

“I love this community,” he added. “I love Ocala. I will work as hard as I possibly can for this agency, this city and its citizens.”

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Joe Byrnes

About Joe Byrnes


Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.