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Hale the new police chief

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Interim Police Chief David Hale, who was selected over finalist David Pazynski, was named police chief of Yellow Springs last Friday, Dec. 26. His contract is being negotiated and will be presented at the Village Council meeting on Jan. 5.

“I’m very pleased, and I’m looking foward to it,” Hale said about his appointment this week. “It’s not just talking about what we want to do, but now we have to implement those things.”

Hale, 51, came to the Village with extensive experience from his 29 years with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s department, where he retired as a major and the head of human resources for the 446-person department. He had done everything from dispatch and road officer work to supervising violent crime investigations and organizing a county-wide drug task force. Hale had also managed the policing of smaller areas, such as Jefferson Township, a community of 7,000 that contracts with the sheriff for local policing.

Bates, who is moving to town this week and is on leave, said in a press release last week that she chose Hale because she thought he was the best “fit” for the village.

As a Village Council representative and a member of the chief search committee, Lori Askeland was impressed with Hale’s ability to think critically and creatively to problem-solve — attributes she observed in Hale during the nearly three hours of interviews she had with him.

“Ultimately what I really liked about Dave Hale was the way he thinks through problems creatively and in a fresh way,” Askeland said this week. “Also, he has done good work in a department that was lacking in continuity and had serious morale problems.”

Though Bates made the ultimate hiring decision, she relied on the input of the search committee, which wasn’t necessarily unanimous in its pick, Askeland said. Pazynski of the Xenia Police was a strong candidate as well, with a particiularly attractive background in training, she said, that could have helped the relatively young, inexperienced department. Hale, on the other hand, has a “ton of experience,” she said.

“I’m comfortable with the choice, but it was not an easy choice,” she said.

The 13-member search committee included Village and police personnel Patti Bates, Melissa VanZant, Mayor Dave Foubert, Sergeant Josh Knapp, Tom Sexton and Rita Check, Village Council members Brian Housh and Askeland, Milford Police Chief Sue Madsen, as well as community members Aaron Saari, John Gudgel, TJ Turner and Leslie White.

The committee reviewed about 20 applications from in and out of state, as well as two internal candidates who were eliminated early in the process due to lack of leadership experience. The group then chose two finalists, who were interviewed by the committee, then Village Council, then the public.

Hale replaces Anthony Pettiford, who resigned due to health concerns in August after 21 months on the job. In his three months as interim chief, Hale has faced several challenges, including an open carry demonstrator at the October Street Fair and a sergeant whose misconduct was captured on video and widely distributed through social media. But the incidents have not fazed Hale, who has gotten to know some of the names and faces around Yellow Springs and found it to be a “heart-warming hometown.”

“There’s always things,” he said. “If I thought that it was going to be headache-free, I never would have signed up in the first place.”

Hale has also started to shore up some of the police department policies and begun to create continuity between written procedure and day-to-day operation. He has plans to increase the training schedule for all staff members, including 10 full-time officers, five part-time and auxiliary officers (including the newest, Tim Spradlin, former Xenia Township fire chief and Ohio Peace Officers Training Academy instructor). The department also includes three full-time and five part-time dispatchers.

“The department is running very well — I look at it like steering a ship, I want to set a direction and tone for the officers to follow,” Hale said.

Hale hopes that by being clear about standards and policies, internal operations will go smoothly. And by being open to listening and communicating with the public, external relations will also go well, he believes.

“People can call me, stop by, I’ll find the time to talk to them,” he said. “As long as people aren’t throwing things at me, I’ll talk to you.”

Hale and his family will continue to live in Washington Township for the foreseeable future.

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