Chief Harmon retires after 29 years with Covington PD


By Kelsi Langston

For Miami Valley Today

COVINGTON — Covington Police Chief Lee Harmon has retired after 29 years on the force, with 21 of those years spent as the chief of the Covington Police Department.

Growing up, Harmon always had interest in becoming a police officer, as he had several relatives that were officers. As he got older, he knew that was what he wanted for his career. After attending Upper Valley Career Center and graduating from Bradford High School, Harmon enlisted in the United States Air Force. He served from 1985 to 1992 as a military police officer. When his time in the Air Force ended, he came to Covington.

When asked what major changes he has witnessed in the community over the past 29 years, Harmon said, “Definitely our schools. When I started, we had three different schools in three different locations, whereas now they’re all on one campus.”

He also noted the changes that have taken place in downtown Covington’s “business district,” most recently the construction of the Marias Software Building, Glacier View Coffee, Boscoe’s, Elias & Oliver Boutique, and West Coast Apparel, where older buildings used to sit. Harmon stated the most drastic changes he’s experienced in the police department have been growth due to new positions that have been added over time, and the evolution of technology. Computerization, bodycams, and cell phones are all advances that didn’t exist when he first joined the force.

Harmon said his favorite part of being on the Covington Police Department has been the opportunity to be a part of the community and being able to help people out with various problems.

When asked about the most challenging parts of the job, he said, “Some of the situations we have to deal with; people that have bad things happen to them and having to deal with that. Telling people that family members or children have passed away.”

In addition to serving as Covington’s Police Chief, Harmon teaches as an adjunct professor for the Basic Police Academy at Edison State Community College. He has taught as an adjunct for 20 years and plans to continue teaching post-retirement. In April of 2023, he joined Edison’s Public Safety Department. Harmon has served on the Covington Exempted Village School District’s Board of Education for 14 years, and currently serves as board president at both Covington as well as Upper Valley Career Center. He has been a long-time member of the Covington Noon Optimist Club, which recently rebranded itself as Covington Tomorrow, in an effort to become more community-centric. Harmon said the organization is known for assisting local youth, but wants to expand its outreach into other areas of the community.

Perhaps the largest adventure awaiting Harmon after retirement is his unopposed campaign for mayor of Covington.

“Covington has been making a lot of progress with [our] uptown, the new park, and various projects going on. I want to see that continue, and I want to keep us moving forward, not backwards,” he said.

Once he becomes mayor elect, Harmon will resign from the Covington Board of Education. He said the greatest part of being on the board has been building the new school and bringing the facility into the 21st century.

In many ways, Harmon will remain a vital part of the community and has a message for the residents of Covington.

“We are working on moving forward, progressing, making things better for tomorrow. I would just encourage people to get involved … I would like to see people come up and help make Covington a better place,” he concluded.

Harmon’s last day with the Covington Police Department was Friday, Oct. 27. There will be a reception at the Covington Eagles on Dec. 15 from 6 to 8 p.m. for both Harmon and Officer Blei, who also retires at the end of the year.

The writer is a regular contributor to Miami Valley Today.

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