Mike Balken, Ocala deputy police chief, was serving as the city’s interim chief after Greg Graham, Ocala police chief, was killed in a plane crash in late October.
The Ocala City Council unanimously passed Balken’s nomination to be the official Ocala police chief on Tuesday. Balken says he’s honored to accept the new role.
“For the folks who came here tonight to support me, we’ve had phone calls, we’ve had meetings and just showed their tremendous support, I appreciate it,” Balken said. “I love this community, I love Ocala; I will work as hard as I possibly can for this agency, the city and its business.”
Dunnellon Police Chief Mike McQuaig is glad city officials tapped Balken to lead Ocala’s police force.
“On a professional level, Mike Balken is absolutely the best choice,” McQuaig said.
“I’ve known him for several years. I have not only known him professionally (but) also in a setting where we have been together outside of the realms of law enforcement,” he said.
Balken also received support from Ocala ministers, citizens and other nearby police departments.