June 19, 2003




Require police chief to live in town

Since the Village is currently undergoing a search for the next chief of police, this is an opportune time to place on the books a policy requiring the chief to live in Yellow Springs, or at least in Miami Township. Because of the importance of the role the police chief has in both the Village government and the community, requiring the chief to live here would strengthen that person’s ties to Yellow Springs. It also makes sense to have the chief close by in case of emergencies or other pressing issues.

Village Manager Rob Hillard said this week that the residency issue is “up for debate” among members of the Police Chief Search Committee, which is helping Mr. Hillard with the search, but nothing has been decided. The issue, he said, will be “an important aspect of the search process.”

There are some disadvantages to a residency requirement, including financial concerns related to the cost of housing in town. Such a requirement could also limit the pool of candidates for the job, turning off some potential applicants who may not want to relocate. While these concerns are valid, they should not outweigh what the community could gain if the chief lives in town. As Hillard said, “When you live in town you have an opportunity to interact with the community.”

Currently, the manager is the only Village official covered by a residency policy. The Village Charter says the manager must live “within a mile radius of the Village but not outside Miami Township.” Local residents made an obvious statement about the manager’s position when this policy was approved. The Village should extend this principle to include its other top manager, the police chief.

Granted, being a good chief of police involves more than just an address. Nevertheless, requiring the next chief to live in the community will make that person more effective, more visible, perhaps, even more approachable and creditable. And ultimately this will make the Police Department better and improve the service provided by the Village.

—Robert Mihalek