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Village manager heading police department; replacement sought and investigation started

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In the wake of Yellow Springs Police Chief David Hale’s resignation, Village manager Patti Bates is currently overseeing the police department, “in charge of overall operations,” with aims to appoint an interim police chief within the next week or two.

Hale resigned on Tuesday, following villagers’ outrage at local police acting in what many perceived as a heavy-handed manner at the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop downtown, when four local officers drove into the crowd with lights flashing and sirens blaring in an attempt to disperse the crowd.

The Village has been in contact with the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police, an organization that keeps a list of retired police chiefs available for hire as interim chiefs when they are needed, according to Bates in an interview today. The Village hopes to have an interim chief in place within the next week, she said.

While the leadership has changed, the day-to-day operations of the department have not, Bates said, nor has the chain of command. Officers are doing their routine patrols and working cases as they normally would, she said.

Village officials are also starting an investigation into the events of New Year’s Eve, when local police drove into a crowd of revelers with sirens blaring and lights flashing. David Williamson of the Dayton firm Bieser, Greer & Landis has been hired by the Village to lead the investigation following a resolution passed at last week’s meeting calling for an independent review of the incident. 

On bringing in independent counsel, Bates said she “wants the community to be assured that it’s an independent, objective review” of every aspect of the New Year’s Eve fracas.

According to a press release announcing Williamson’s hiring, the Village said it anticipates the investigation will take approximately 30 days. However, Bates said, the time frame may change depending on the scope of the investigation and what information is uncovered.

The investigation is being paid for by the Village. Bates said that she could not comment on specific hourly rates until the final contract with the firm is signed, which she expects to take place today.

One officer involved in the New Year’s Eve incident, RJ Hawley, is on injury leave, and the other officers — Allison Saurber, Mark Charles and Jeff Beam — are working their regularly assigned shifts. Though the Greene County Sheriff’s Department has jurisdiction in the village, no other department has been asked to work with the YSPD in the absence of a chief. Review of the Village’s policy on the use of tasers will be part of the upcoming investigation, but as of now, the policy remains the same and is still in place.

Further coverage will be featured in the upcoming print edition of the Yellow Springs News.

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6 Responses to “Village manager heading police department; replacement sought and investigation started”

  1. Bronwyn Reece says:

    Thanks, Dylan for the reply. I look forward to reading about it.

    Re: other comments… that state law would prohibit residency requirement… That wouldn’t prevent us from more strongly encouraging it though, I would think.

    And no one is talking about limiting visitors to YS or building a moat at the town limits. But if we want community feeling from our police dept. it can only help if they’re actually, literally part of the community.

  2. Marianne Lopita-Smith says:

    Agree! We should welcome people from other communities to visit and to work. We shouldn’t limit or “choose” who comes to the village to shop, establish business or just to enjoy our community. As a resident, I welcome anyone to want to seek employment in our community even if they are not a resident. One incident shouldn’t dramatically change the way we live, work as a community as a result of a bad choice made by one officer.

  3. Tony Absi says:

    It is against state law to have a residency requirement.

  4. Jeremy Couts says:

    Travis Lewis. Son of YS. Should be considered as the Peace Officer of YS. Bouncer experience. Local Artist. Pacifist. Laid me out in a drunken rampage by simply extending his arm. Damn he is big! I have not ran this by his wife or him. But maybe?

  5. Dylan Taylor-Lehman says:

    Hello Bronwyn! An look at the Village’s use of force policy will be in next week’s paper and will include an examination of taser use specifically. And upcoming articles will take a look at the options for police department as they develop. Thanks for reading/commenting.

  6. Bronwyn Reece says:

    The taser policy remains the same and is in place – but what exactly is the taser policy, as currently written? Based on this incident, it either wasn’t followed or was and it’s insufficient and must be changed.

    Also, I think at least in part we’re seeing the consequences of not requiring our officers and especially the Chief to be a resident and not just a working visitor. Perhaps the Village should create incentives or compensation for landlords to rent to yspd in our notoriously pricey area so that’s more feasible.

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