Franklin police chief retires after decades with department, effective today

Franklin police Chief Russell Whitman stepped down as the city's top cop on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021 to retire. Whitman spent his entire 34-year law enforcement career with the Franklin Division of Police. FILE PHOTO
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Franklin police Chief Russell Whitman stepped down as the city's top cop on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021 to retire. Whitman spent his entire 34-year law enforcement career with the Franklin Division of Police. FILE PHOTO

Franklin police Chief Russ Whitman has retired effective today, city officials announced on Monday night.

Following an executive session that lasted for more than an hour at Monday’s Franklin City Council meeting, council announced approval of a separation memorandum of understanding between the city and Whitman.

“Throughout this community, Chief Whitman is well respected because he selflessly contributes his time and energy to so many worthy causes including Franklin schools and youth athletics,” said City Manager Jonathan Westendorf. “He will be missed by the city, but I know he is looking forward to spending more time with his family.”

Whitman could not be reached for comment Monday evening or this morning.

Westendorf announced this morning that Lt. Brian Pacifico will serve as acting police chief until a new chief is selected.

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Westendorf said the city immediately will begin searching for a replacement.

Mayor Brent Centers said the agreement terms prevent him from additional comment.

A 1983 graduate of West Carrollton High School, Whitman enlisted for four years in the U.S. Coast Guard. He joined the Franklin Division of Police as a reserve officer in 1987 and became a full-time police officer in August 1989.

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During his 34-year law enforcement career, Whitman served in several specialized duty assignments that included as a handler for two K-9 officers, Sinbad and Sonny, before serving as an evidence technician for the department.

Whitman was promoted to sergeant in 1998 and became an expert trainer in less than lethal force, a county trainer in incident management and active shooter situations. He served as commander of the Franklin police reserve program, a senior field training officer and a member for the Ohio Type III All Hazard Incident Management Team.

Franklin Police Chief Russell Whitman. CONTRIBUTED/CITY OF FRANKLIN
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Franklin Police Chief Russell Whitman. CONTRIBUTED/CITY OF FRANKLIN

Whitman was promoted to lieutenant in January 2009 before becoming the department’s chief in October 2010.

He is a graduate of the Police Executive Leadership College and the Certified Law Enforcement Executive Program and attended Tiffin University working on a criminal justice program.

Whitman has been married to his wife, Lisa, since 1997 and they have three children and three grandchildren.