Fairfield’s new police chief has a strong passion for the community, department

Fairfield Police Lt. Steve Maynard will be promoted to Chief on Monday as Police Chief Mike Dickey retires. Dickey served 19 years as the city’s top cop and announced his retirement this past October. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/STAFF

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Fairfield Police Lt. Steve Maynard will be promoted to Chief on Monday as Police Chief Mike Dickey retires. Dickey served 19 years as the city’s top cop and announced his retirement this past October. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/STAFF

Outgoing Fairfield Police Chief Mike Dickey not only said his successor will make an “excellent” chief for the city, but will “take over an excellent department and make it better.”

Lt. Steve Maynard will be promoted to police chief tonight at Fairfield City Council, replacing Dickey who took on the job 19 years ago — the same day Maynard was hired as a patrol officer.

INITIAL REPORT: Fairfield police chief to retire in February

Dickey said Maynard has worked hard to “put himself in position” to lead the department.

“The quest for excellence is a continuous process, and he is capable of meeting that challenge,” Dickey said.

Maynard said the job of police chief wasn’t on his radar until a couple years ago when Dickey told his staff he was going to leave. Maynard said he was “encouraged by a few people in the city to throw my name in the hat.”

“Not to say that someone couldn’t come in and do as good as a job, or even a better job, than me, but I feel strongly about this department and community, and I felt whoever had that position should have that same mentality,” said Maynard, 40, a Ross High School graduate.

As an officer with the city department, Maynard has earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Ashland University and graduated from two police academies Northwestern Center for Public Safety’s School of Police Staffing and Command and FBI National Academy.

RELATED: Maynard named Fairfield’s next police chief

Maynard was hired on June 21, 1999. He moved on from patrol to work in special investigations, working in undercover, for several years. He was promoted to sergeant in 2008 and spent more than seven years as a patrol supervisor on third shift. He was promoted to lieutenant and placed in charge of the Operations Division in 2015.

Maynard was one of nine people who applied for the police chief’s job, and was one of the five finalists interviewed by City Manager Mark Wendling. Wendling said 19 years ago, the city needed a new chief from outside the organization, but now the department is ready for a chief promoted from within.

“I think he’s worked very hard to get to this point in his career,” said Wendling. “I think he’s done well to prepare for this role.”

Mayor Steve Miller said he believes Maynard will continue what Dickey did for the department.

“He’s going to make a good department even better,” Miller said. “He knows the strengths, he knows the challenges and he’s going to make an excellent police chief who’s hopefully going to be here for a long time.”

Councilman Ron D’Epifanio, the council’s public safety committee chair, said Maynard has “paid his dues” and has the support from the department.

“I’m glad they did the search, but I’m glad they promoted from within,” he said. “I think he’ll do an excellent job.”

There won’t be many changes to the department with Maynard at the helm, he said.

“My main focus is hiring new officers, getting them trained,” Maynard said.

There are a few vacancies within the ranks of the police department, and there are a few retirements set to happen in the new future, which Maynard said a lot of the anticipated vacancies are supervisory positions. That includes filling his lieutenant’s position as the Operations Division officer.

“I think it’s important to get the opinion of my command staff of changes that will affect the entire department. I think we need to be all on board,” he said. “So before I can make any changes, I need to have my command staff in place to make sure that we’re all on the same page.”

But one change he will begin to implement is the department’s use of social media.

The city is using social media to alert the community to criminal acts and crime trends in the community, but Maynard has established the department's own Twitter handle — Twitter.com/FairfieldOHPD — and will not only push important alerts day and night but some of the positives of policing.

“We do a lot of good work, we do a lot of important things sometimes the community doesn’t see and I think it’s our responsibility to make sure that we’re putting that out there,” Maynard said. “And social media, in my opinion, is the best outlet. I want to spotlight the good things the officers here in Fairfield that are being done.”

As Maynard becomes chief, he is forced to give up his position on the Hamilton-Fairfield SWAT team. He joined that team in 2004 and he leaves as a team leader and the sniper team commander.

“It’s a tight-knit group of guys,” he said of the team. “The hardest part for me is moving from my current position to chief is that I have to give up SWAT. I’ve grown close to those guys over the years, and there’s a bond there.”

As Maynard leads the department Dickey built over nearly two decades, Dickey offers his successor this advice:

“A chief makes decisions on any issue on three levels: What’s good for community, what’s good for the department and profession, and what’s good for the individual. Ideally any decision has all three in mind. If you make you’re decision with the community first, the department and profession second, and the individual third, you will be successful. Keep your priorities in mind.”

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