Fairfield Twp. police chief interviews could start next week

Fairfield Twp. officials could begin interviewing candidates for police chief as early as next week.

Trustees have decided that each would select up to six of the 15 candidates who applied and submit those names to the township administrator by 8 a.m. Monday.

RELATED: 15 apply to be next Fairfield Twp. police chief

The township administrator, Julie Vonderhaar, and township consultant Ken Geis, will interview the preliminary list of candidates chosen by each trustee.

Fairfield Twp. Trustee President Susan Berding expressed concern that such a process could see all 15 candidates interviewed, but she said if trustees stick to the qualifications and requirements, “we should be able to narrow that down” to a more manageable number.

“This sets the culture and the tone of the whole department,” said Berding of the next police chief.

Most of the candidates have law enforcement experience around Southwest Ohio, but only four of the candidates have law enforcement experience in Butler County.

The experience ranges from seven who at one point in their career held the title of police chief, one who is currently an acting police chief and another who was an assistant police chief. Six others have some level of supervisory experience.

One applicant is from Illinois, and most either work in Hamilton County or around Southwest Ohio. But only four — Doug Lanier, Benjamin Kramer, Frank Robinson and Jeffrey Witte — have ever worked in Butler County.

  • Lanier, who is currently the Fairfield Twp. acting police chief, has worked for the township since June 2001 and in a supervisory position since September 2008.
  • Kramer was Ross Twp.'s police chief from May 2010 to July 2013. Prior to that, he worked for the Butler County Sheriff's Office for 16 years.
  • Robinson worked for Monroe's police department from 1994 to 2013 as a patrol commander and assistant police chief and was a Lemon Twp. police officer prior to that.
  • Witte worked for the city of Hamilton Police Department for about two years.
Explore MORE: 19 guns unaccounted for in police property room

The Journal-News reported this week about longstanding problems with unaccounted for guns, cash and drugs in one applicant’s current department’s police property room.

Robinson, the current police chief in the Dayton suburb of Riverside, said all missing property is now accounted for, and the employee who oversaw the property room has resigned and has been replaced.

The property room in Robinson’s Riverside department became a place where guns, cash and drugs were unaccounted for by the time Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office officials this year declared it was “not in operational capacity,” according to an internal memo obtained by the Journal-News under Ohio’s public records law.

Problems inside the room included a box of guns left in the open, unsecured rape kits stacked in a corner, more than 3,000 pages of paperwork left unorganized, and evidence returned from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation left in a box instead of properly logged.

Outside the room, evidence was stored without identification.

The problems caused the dismissal of an impaired driving case and delayed a burglary investigation, according to the document.

Fairfield Twp. officials declined to comment on how the problems would impact their decision.

The other 11 applicants for the position are:

  • Jeffrey Butler, of Miamisburg
  • Elbert Bush, Jr., of Cincinnati
  • Robert Chabali, of Dayton
  • Thomas Doyle, of Cincinnati
  • Alan Lakamp, of Fairfield Twp.
  • Robert Merkle, of Cincinnati
  • Daniel Ogilive, of Cincinnati
  • Jody O'Guinn, of Cabondale, Ill.
  • Eugene Rice, of Sullivan
  • Maurice Robinson, of Cincinnati
  • Keith Schoonover, of Mason

There is no timeline to hire a new chief, but trustees have said they would like to hire someone soon. Once Vonderhaar interviews candidates, she will provide the trustees with a narrowed list of candidates to interview.

A person could be selected after that second interview, or a third round of interviews may be needed, Berding said.

“Now that we have our pool of applicants, we need to move quickly,” she said.

Fairfield Twp. is seeking a new police chief after Matt Fruchey resigned at the end of March.

FIRST REPORT: Fairfield Twp. police chief resigns

Berding would like to have the next chief believe in community-oriented policing because “those community interactions are key.” And Berding and Trustee Shannon Hartkemeyer also want strong leadership from the person in the position.

“I would like someone that’s community-focused but driving with an eye for fiscal responsibility,” Hartkemeyer said. “I want someone that’s going to be the best fit for the community.”

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