COVINGTON — When he’s not serving and protecting, Lee Harmon can often be found rocking and rolling.
Many know Harmon as the village of Covington’s chief of police, but the United States Air Force veteran also is a veteran of the music scene, with which he’s been involved in some capacity since his wonder years in Bradford.
Growing up, Harmon always knew he wanted to be a police officer, but music was nonetheless an integral part of his upbringing.
“I grew up in a very musical family. On my mother’s side, my aunts all played piano and my father played guitar, piano and organ,” said Harmon, a 1984 Bradford High School grad who studied public communications at Upper Valley Career Center. “It just kind of grows on you. I was always interested in music and as I went on in life, the interest stayed with me.”
After learning the basics of guitar from a couple of his father’s friends who played in church, Harmon continued teaching himself to play through music books and watching other guitarists play.
“I played with bands since I was a teenager,” said Harmon, who also plays harmonica. “Then when I was in Europe in the Air Force, we had lots of people that played; people just kind of gravitate toward each other. We played for our NCO club and special events on base.”
After seven years in the Air Force, where he was a military policeman, Harmon studied criminal justice at Edison State Community College, and joined the Covington Police Department in 1994, becoming chief in 2002.
Years passed and as it is known to do, life became busy for Harmon — filled with police duties, time with his wife and children, serving on the Covington Board of Education (he’s currently the vice president), and heading the Noon Optimists Club, as well as other community involvements.
Music might have been on the back burner, but it was not lost in the shuffle. As Harmon said, the interest stayed with him. So it was with enthusiasm that he received the news in late 2016 from friend and fellow musician Mark Cantwil that a local cover band, Strategy, needed a guitar player.
“They gave me a call and asked me to come over and audition for the band,” Harmon recalled, adding that Strategy’s bass player, Bart Goings, was a longtime neighbor from his youth in Bradford. “They talked and liked my playing, so I was in the band.”
Strategy performs primarily in Miami and Shelby counties, frequenting area bars, the Covington Eagles, and events like Bradford Pumpkin Show and Piqua BikeFest, though a few dates will take them to Darke County and Lake St. Marys to play what Harmon calls “a little bit of everything,” including many blasts from the past and a few newer tunes.
“We play classic rock mostly, some classic country and some newer stuff,” Harmon said. “Our set list includes Johnny Cash, Tom Petty, Rick Springfield, The Doors, Rolling Stones, and a lot more.”
Harmon, whose personal favorites lean toward the bluesy rock of the Black Crowes, Bad Company and Eric Clapton, said rock’n’roll is a way to relax from the rules and rigors of police work from time to time.
“It gives me a break from my day job. It’s just a way to let off steam, and it’s very therapeutic,” he said. “I just like getting together with people and making music.”
Reach Belinda M. Paschal at firstname.lastname@example.org or (937) 451-3341