Remembering the Hamilton police chief’s unusual alligator chase

Editor's note: This article first published on Aug. 16, 2019, and is being republished to again share an entertaining story from a local official.

The discovery of a 7 1/2-foot crocodile in a Preble County creek earlier this year brought back memories of a Hamilton sergeant who wangled an alligator from the Great Miami River in 2009.

Police Chief Craig Bucheit, then a sergeant, was the supervisor on patrol on July 25, 2009, when he got a call that people fishing had spotted an alligator. The reptile was reported by a man who nearly stepped on it on his way to fish in the river near the Riverside Athletic Club, 1150 Hamilton Cleves Road.

MORE: ODNR: Highly unlikely other crocodiles in Bantas Fork Creek in West Alexandria

Bucheit, a big fan of Steve Irwin, “The Crocodile Hunter,” went straight to the scene.

“Oh I was there,” Bucheit said with a laugh. “I had visions of a 10- or 14-foot gator.”

As Bucheit approached the river bank, he thought he would see that reptile right away.

“But I was directed back to the wooded, bushy area. I couldn’t see much of anything,” Bucheit said.

The chief used his snare — typically for use on dogs or other mammals — to catch the alligator. It thrashed and tried to get away, but Bucheit was able to take the animal into custody.

“It was pretty feisty,” Bucheit said.

The gator measured about 4 feet.

“I was a little disappointed in the size,” Bucheit said.

He used some skills gleaned from The Crocodile Hunter and taped the snout shut.

“But then I thought, ‘What am I going to do with it?’” he said.

Bucheit put the gator in the back of the cruiser and drove to the station. There were plenty of people waiting.

A wildlife rescue group contacted police after hearing about the story, and the Hamilton alligator was delivered safely to a suitable home.

How the alligator wound up in the city is a mystery, Bucheit said.

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