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Year in Review 2014: Police in the village

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One deputy exonerated, one fired
At the end of December 2013, a Greene County grand jury acquitted the law enforcement officer who shot and killed villager Paul E. Schenck in July of that year. Having reviewed a comprehensive report prepared by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation of the incident involving the shooting standoff between Schenck and about 80 police, the jury did not bring charges against Greene County Sheriff Deputy James Hughes, the precision riflemen of the Greene County Regional SWAT team who ultimately shot Schenck.

In late February, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s department released an independent investigation finding that Greene County Sheriff Major Eric Spicer, the only other officer who fired a weapon at the scene, violated five of 13 allegations of improper conduct. He lost his job as a result.

Sergeant disciplined for misconduct
In December Sergeant Naomi Penrod was disciplined for having forcibly grabbed a video camera from a citizen at an Allen Street home on Nov. 5. A three-second clip of the incident was recorded and shared widely on social media. An initial internal investigation found that Penrod had committed two counts of misconduct by using unnecessary force and exhibiting hostility without cause. The disciplinary action included a fitness-for-duty examination, six-month performance improvement program, and a two-day unpaid suspension, with the possibility of a third day if behavioral progress was not made. The victim is currently pursuing criminal charges against the officer.

Rocky year for PD personnel
The Yellow Springs Police Department had a tumultuous year after losing its chief in August, hiring an interim chief and then a permanent chief, disciplining a veteran officer and losing and adding a handful of officers and dispatchers to the ranks.

In January, then-Police Chief Anthony Pettiford promoted officers Naomi Penrod and Josh Knapp to the rank of sergeant, the first since 2012. In March two new officers resigned, followed by the resignation in April of Patrick Roegner, a six-year veteran with the department who had been on five months of paid administrative leave. The department then hired five new officers as replacements, including one for dispatcher Larry Campbell, who retired after nearly 45 years of service to the village.

Pettiford, who was injured on duty shortly after he was hired in early 2013, took an extended leave of absence in the spring for the second surgery since his arrival and was subsequently able to work only part-time and light duty. In August he resigned his position due to health reasons. The following month the Village hired retired Montgomery County Sheriff Major David Hale as the interim police chief, who then submitted his application for the permanent position. He and Xenia Police Captain David Pazynski were chosen as finalists out of 18 applicants, and in late December Hale was hired as permanent chief.

HRC holds policing forum
In October the Village Human Relations Commission surveyed villagers and sponsored a forum to get local feedback about what villagers want in their police department and next police chief. The overriding themes from both activities were a desire for police and a chief who focus on peace-keeping, mediation, restorative justice, demilitarization, and active and personal engagement with Yellow Springs residents, especially local youth.

Crime in YS low
In February YSPD released its annual crime report, indicating that incidents of violent crime in Yellow Springs are rare, and property crime continues to be the primary threat in Yellow Springs. Additional figures suggest that Yellow Springs is a safe community compared with surrounding municipalities, while its crime rate is on par with similar small towns in the area.

Fire-Rescue volunteers down
In February, the Miami Township Fire-Rescue volunteer squad hit a low in recent years of 30 members, down from the 50 needed to make a strong department. To encourage participation, the local department began offering a housing cost supplement for local volunteers and got accredited to offer EMT courses at the local fire house. In November, the squad honored the first eight graduates of the in-house program and inducted eight new members to the MTFR squad.

No place for new fire house
Over the summer the Miami Township Fire-Rescue department learned that an option they had pursued for three years as a home for their new fire house fell through when the Township Trustees decided the price of the former Wright State University clinic property on Xenia Avenue was too high. With a right of first refusal on the clinic property in hand, the Township spent the remainder of the summer and early fall talking to Antioch College about purchasing the property north of the Vernay Laboratories parking lot on East South College Street. But in the late fall, Antioch College decided not to sell the land.

Dedication of covered bridge
On May 9 the Greene County Engineer posthumously dedicated the new Hyde Road Covered Bridge to Richard P. Eastman, county engineer from 1974 through 1996. The village also proclaimed the day Richard Eastman Day, in honor of his service to both family and community in the village.


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