September 25, 2003


Search for new police chief narrowed to 2 candidates

Villagers will have the opportunity to meet and talk with the two final candidates for the position of Yellow Springs chief of police at a public forum next Tuesday, Sept. 30.

The final candidates are Sergeant E. Carl Bush of Dayton, a 23-year police veteran who currently works for the Trotwood Police Department and Jeffrey H. Witte of Springdale, a 21-year police veteran who currently works as a patrol supervisor for the Springdale Police Department.

At the “meet and greet” session, the two candidates will summarize why they want the job here, and will then answer three prepared questions. Local residents will then have a chance to question the finalists and to offer feedback to Village Manager Rob Hillard and members of the Police Chief Search Committee, which worked with Hillard in the search process. Evaluation forms will be provided at the meeting, Hillard said.

Both Hillard and committee member Barbara Boettcher emphasized the importance of villagers attending the session.

“We’re very anxious to have people attend,” Boettcher said. “We view it as an extension of the interview process.”

Hillard and the committee have been working since last spring to find a new police chief to replace Chief Jim Miller, who is now retired. Since March, Captain John Grote has been serving as interim chief.

The Village received 81 applications for the job from interested persons all over the country, according to Hillard. He said that he did not receive any applications from Yellow Springs residents. The initial pool was narrowed down to 11 candidates, then to five, who were interviewed by Hillard and the committee last week. Hillard and the board then selected Bush and Witte as the final two candidates.

“We believe these two candidates best reflect the characteristics and administrative backgrounds we desire in a chief,” Hillard said.

Boettcher said that Bush and Witte share many strengths.

“They’re both very intelligent and very articulate and have performed a wide range of police functions,” she said. “They both seem sensitive to diversity issues and have small-town backgrounds. They both have a lot going for them.”

Because the two finalists share so many qualities, it’s especially important for many villagers to attend next week’s session to ask questions, so that differences between the candidates become more apparent, she said.

A police officer for 21 years, Witte has worked for the past 17 years at Springdale. Currently, his responsibilities include serving as the department’s DARE instructor at area schools, coordinating state and federal grant funding programs, serving as the jail administrator for the department’s five-day jail facility and serving as accreditation manager. His past assignments have included patrol officer, crime prevention services officer, patrol supervisor (sergeant) and field training officer.

A graduate of the University of Notre Dame who also has a master’s in criminal justice from the University of Cincinnati, Witte is currently enrolled in a distance education program for a doctorate of public policy through the Charles Sturt University in Australia. He has taught criminal justice classes at the University of Cincinnati and the Ohio Police Officer Training Academy.

“Yellow Springs has a unique atmosphere of community involvement and community acceptance, and that’s intriguing to me,” Witte said in a telephone interview on Monday.

The author of an article on participatory management in law enforcement in the American Journal of Police, Witte said that he is “firmly committed” to that management style.

“Especially in a small department, everybody in the department has valuable insights to bring to management and to the decision-making process,” he said.

Witte and his family currently live in Springdale, a suburb of Cincinnati. While he and his wife would be willing to move to Yellow Springs if required to do so, they would prefer to continue living in Springdale since she works in the Cincinnati area, he said.

Currently a sergeant responsible for accreditation and records in the Trotwood Police Department, Carl Bush wrote in his application letter that he has experience “managing officers as well as civilians, staffing, dispatch, investigations, training, plus responsibility for planning, budgeting and goal setting.”

His diverse policing experiences would serve him well as chief, Bush believes.

“I’ve ‘been there and done that’ in many situations, which I think is a plus for someone in the command structure of a police department, especially a small one,” he said in a phone interview Tuesday.

At Trotwood, he has implemented a computerized records management system and served as investigator for serious internal complaints. Currently working on his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at Park University, Bush has completed courses from Northwestern University’s Graduate School of Police Staff and Command Class, the Law Enforcement Foundation’s Graduate Police Executive Leadership College Class and the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy.

He also served as police academy instructor at Sinclair Community College and the Miami Valley Career Technology Center.

Bush is divorced, has three children, ages 18, 6 and 4, and lives in Clayton. If hired, Bush said, he would seek a place to live in Yellow Springs.

“I would like to return to policing in a smaller community and think that Yellow Springs would be a prime opportunity to do that,” he said.

The three other finalists were Michael Tenore of Dayton, a retired lieutenant from the Dayton Police Department, Roger Bryant of Dayton, also a retired lieutenant from the Dayton Police Department, and Joseph Mauro of Tipp City, a 24-year veteran of the Tipp City Police Department.

Besides Boettcher, other members of the search committee are Grote, John Gudgel, Randall Newsome, June Allison, Tom Haugsby, Sterling Wiggins and Jeff Reich. Before the search began, committee members drafted a list of characteristics they considered important in a police chief, including sensitivity to diversity, a commitment to a “productive partnership with the local schools,” and a willingness to “have an open dialogue with, and be accessible to, both his/her staff and the general public.”

The list also included an interest in “enhancing communications between the merchants/community and the police department,” understanding “issues involving youth,” ability to delegate responsibility, strong administrative, financial and organization development skills, flexibility regarding policing methods, and an interest in keeping the department “up to date in training, equipment, technology and police practices.”

Hillard said that the committee’s suggestions “played a large part” in the selection process.

Committee members worked well together, Newsome said. “It’s been a thoughtful and informative process. We complement each other,” he said.

After next week’s “meet and greet” session, Hillard will review villagers’ responses to the candidates and decide whether to choose one of the finalists, or reopen the selection process. If a candidate is chosen, a background check and visit to the candidate’s work environment will take place. If all goes well, contract negotiations would then begin.

—Diane Chiddister