March 6, 2003
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Police Chief Jim Miller to retire in September—

Shake up in Police Dept. leadership

In an apparent changing of the guard at the Yellow Springs Police Department, Chief Jim Miller has been placed on paid administrative leave with plans to officially retire in September after almost 10 years here.

Captain John Grote was named the interim police chief on Monday. Village Manager Rob Hillard said that the Village’s search for a new chief would begin “immediately.”

Hillard announced the news at the beginning of Council’s meeting March 3. Council did not discuss the matter.

Miller was placed on paid leave on Tuesday and will officially resign as chief on Sept. 3.

Placing Miller on paid leave gives the Village “an extended transition period and ample time to conduct a search” for a new chief, Hillard said.

Grote said that he learned of Miller’s decision late Sunday. “It pretty much surprised everybody,” he said of the department.

In a phone interview Tuesday morning, Miller said that different opinions about “management style” between him and Hillard led Miller to decide to retire. Though Miller initially said he was “not up to talking right now” about his decision, he did agree to answer a few questions.

“I guess my style of management didn’t necessarily fit with the manager’s style of management and so it was probably time for me to go,” Miller said.

Later in the 15-minute interview, Miller said that he and Hillard “had different ideas,” adding that retiring from the Yellow Springs police force was “the appropriate thing to do.”

When asked about Miller’s comments, Hillard, in a separate interview Tuesday, said that he “wouldn’t argue” with Miller’s assessment. Hillard would not elaborate on the situation or the differences between the two, nor would he discuss whether there were other issues of concern within the Police Department.

Hillard did say that a person usually evaluates his or her work environment when considering retirement. “I guess that’s what Jim is doing in making that decision,” Hillard said.

Miller said that it was his decision to retire, noting that, now 30 years into his career, he had been thinking of retiring “for some time.” He said that it is his “intent to retire on Sept. 3.”

He also said that he thought he was “doing a good job as chief.”

Hillard agreed. “I honor his decision to retire,” he said. “Jim did a good job for us.”

After Council’s meeting Monday, Tony Arnett, the Council president, declined to comment on Miller’s assertions, saying that the “participation of personnel matters are not for me to discuss.”

Miller was hired as police chief in 1993, succeeding Wiley Sampson, who was also hired the same year but abruptly resigned just a few months into the job. Sampson succeeded longtime Police Chief Jim McKee, who died earlier this year.

During his career here, Miller guided the department through several high-profile issues, including a large protest in 2000 when Antioch College asked Mumia Abu-Jamal, who is on death row in Pennsylvania for killing a police officer, to give a commencement address, and several missing persons cases in the last year. In addition, the Village settled last year a sexual harassment suit filed by former officer Kimberly Monhollen, and in January, another former officer, Matt Williams, filed a complaint in a Greene County court, appealing the Village’s decision to fire him.

Miller said that he is going to miss working with local schoolchildren and administrators and students at Antioch College.

“It’s been a great pleasure and very rewarding to serve the community of Yellow Springs and the residents for the past nine years,” he said.

Miller said that he does not know what he will do after he officially retires later this year. It will, he said, give him the opportunity to do some things “that I had been contemplating.”

Hillard said that his plans to search for a new police chief are preliminary, but that the search will incorporate a community process. He said that he plans to form a “broad-based” search committee that will include Village officials and local residents. Hillard will present a search plan at Council’s next meeting, March 17. The manager is responsible for hiring the chief of police.

Grote said that right now he will not be a candidate for the position, explaining that there is “a lot I can do” as a captain. The police chief is a “difficult position” that involves reporting to “a lot of people,” Grote said.

“Right now, I report to one person,” he said.

—Robert Mihalek