Village manager heading police department; replacement sought and investigation started
- Published: January 6, 2017
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.