Helton promoted from Gastonia asst. police chief to top position

Gastonia’s assistant police chief, Robert Helton, has been named chief of police, effective Oct. 1.

The current chief, Stacy Conley, will retire Sept. 30.

In a news release, Gastonia City Manager Ed Munn said, “I am confident that Chief Helton will build on the strong traditions of the Gastonia Police Department and provide the necessary leadership to address the opportunities and challenges that are ahead.”

A Gastonia native, Helton is a 28-year veteran of the city’s police department. He began his career as a patrol officer in 1987, was promoted to sergeant in 1998, captain in 2006 and assistant chief in 2011.

He has been a leader in field operations, criminal and juvenile investigations, community and problem-oriented policing, crisis response and community relations.

Helton earned an associate degree in criminal justice from Gaston College and a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Gardner-Webb University, graduating summa cum laude. He is a 2005 graduate of the FBI National Academy in 2005 and holds an advanced law enforcement certificate from the State of North Carolina.

Helton is also a member of the Rotary Club of Gastonia and serves on the advisory board for The Shelter of Gaston County.