MORTON — The village's police chief is retiring.


Craig Hilliard sent a notarized retirement letter Thursday to Morton Mayor Jeff Kaufman. Hilliard's final day as police chief will be June 30, and his retirement will be effective at 12:01 a.m. July 1.


Hilliard's letter, made public by the village along with a news release about his retirement, ended several days of speculation about his employment with the village after his name and photo were removed from the village's website.


The Morton Village Board will vote Monday at a special meeting on Kaufman's recommendation to name Jason Miller the village's new police chief. Miller is currently the deputy police chief.


Hilliard was named Morton's police chief in 2011.


He joined the Morton Police Department as an auxiliary officer in 1983, became a full-time officer in 1986, was promoted to sergeant and named deputy police chief and police chief.


"I've recently reached two milestones in my life; one is turning 60 years old and the second is achieving 34 years of full-time service (with the Morton Police Department) ..." Hilliard wrote in his retirement letter. "I've reached a crossroad in my life as I am heading into a new chapter, that being retirement."


Hilliard wrote that throughout his career in the department, he's had the opportunity to work alongside several great male and female full-time and auxiliary officers.


"Additionally, I've had the privilege and honor to serve the residents of Morton, a community which I am proud to say I was born and raised," he wrote.


Hilliard thanked the Village Board and Morton Police Commission "for allowing me to take such an exhilarating ride and aiding in making my dream of becoming a police officer a reality."


"Most importantly, I would like to thank my family for their love and support throughout my journey. Without their patience and understanding, I would not have been able to achieve all that I have achieved," he wrote.


Hilliard wrote that the village, police department and Morton residents will continue to mean a great deal to him and he'll always be available to provide support.


In its news release, the village thanked Hilliard for his years of loyal and dedicated service to Morton and wished him well in his retirement.


Members of the public won't be able to attend Monday's Village Board meeting because of COVID-19 concerns. For information on making public comments at the 7 p.m. meeting, go to www.morton-il.gov.


Steve Stein can be reached at (248) 224-2616 or stevestein21@yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.