Police

More shifts at Village police

Changes in personnel at the Yellow Springs Police Department are becoming the norm this year. Two more full-time officers either resigned or requested reduced hours last month, following the resignation of two full-time officers in February and March.

In addition, Police Chief Anthony Pettiford last month took a second medical leave in as many years, leaving Sgts. Naomi Penrod and Josh Knapp to handle both the chief’s job and the short staffing issues.

The shifting brings the number of full-time officers to seven, which is short of the nine officers Pettiford has said is necessary to police the village adequately. And of the full-timers still left, just two, Penrod and David Meister, have been with the department for more than a year.

In Pettiford’s absence, Village Interim Manager Kent Bristol said last week that the department is doing its best to make do with the support they have. The movement of law enforcement personnel between departments has become more common, he said, as officers and departments make decisions about the “right fit” between a more aggressive force and a community-oriented safety patrol.

“The nature of public safety employment has changed — these were career officers who came from other departments,” he said, referring to three recently hired officers who perhaps chose Yellow Springs because of its policing culture.

Over the winter, newly trained officers Luciana Leiff and Jon Matheny resigned their positions after less than a year in Yellow Springs for posts with Xenia and Fairborn departments, respectively. This month, Brian Carlson confirmed his intention to pull back to part-time policing to focus on his architecture/building business. And in April, Officer Patrick Roegner also resigned, after eight years with the department.

Roegner had been placed on paid administrative leave since January of this year for reasons Pettiford would not discuss publicly at the time. However, his file with the Village shows that his involvement with the shooting death of local resident Paul E. Schenck in July 2013 had caused significant trauma for him.

Roegner joined the YSPD in 2006 after six years with the U.S. Air Force, including two combat tours in Iraq, for which he achieved numerous medals and awards. He succeeded with the local department, but struggled with some personal issues, especially following the July shooting event, in which he was the officer in charge in the initial response to the distress call. Roegner’s resignation letter thanks the department for its “support and leadership” and states his intention to leave law enforcement in order “to continue to fully recover from the shooting incident.”

As a matter of course, Bristol said, Yellow Springs police has an employee assistance program including temporary treatment and ongoing counseling services for all of its employees. The services include support for job, domestic, mental health and other issues employees may face and the program is covered by the Village’s health care plan, he said.

Because of the recent resignations, the Village is at least one-and-a-half positions short a full staff, even with two part-time officers and three full-time dispatchers, Bristol said. He is uncertain when Pettiford will be released to return to work, and when he is, he will be put on “light duty,” or office work, until he fully recovers, Bristol said. Pettiford took three months of leave and partial leave last year for shoulder surgery following an injury he sustained during morning student drop-off at Mills Lawn school. This year’s leave is to “essentially repeat the first surgery,” Bristol said.

Last month, the department hired Officer Stephanie Spurlock, who previously worked part time for the Jamestown Police Department. The Village also hired Randall (R.J.) Hawley, a nine-year police veteran from Sugarcreek Twp., and Jeffery Bean, formerly with Cedarville Police. The local department also hired part-time dispatcher Tiffany Hartpence last month.

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