Hamilton police chief to become new city manager

Hamilton Police Chief Craig Bucheit will be the next city manager, replacing longtime administrative leader Joshua Smith, who will leave on April 5 to lead the Butler County Finance Authority.

Bucheit, 48, will begin his new role on April 6 earning a starting salary of nearly $186,700 a year.

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“Together with our talented and dedicated team, I am excited to further our efforts to improve the quality of life in Hamilton, drive our economic development forward, and celebrate the rich history and immense pride that defines our community,” he said.

The search was led by Hamilton City Council, which was committed to finding an internal candidate to succeed Smith. Mayor Pat Moeller said they were impressed with Bucheit’s public safety experience, administrative skills, neighborhood leadership, education and work ethic.

“He has been an excellent public servant protecting and serving Hamilton residents for 27 years as a police officer,” the mayor said.

City Council had interviewed several internal applicants.

Bucheit, a Hamilton native and Badin High School graduate, began his career with the city in 1997 when he was hired as a police officer. He worked his way through the ranks, including as a detective, a patrol shift supervisor and the department’s public information officer. He commanded a patrol shift as a lieutenant until he was promoted to captain in 2012. He was promoted to police chief on Jan. 2, 2015.

He is expected to earn a Juris Doctor in May from the University of Dayton. He holds a Bachelor of Criminal Justice from Ohio University and an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science from Miami University. He also graduated from the Police Executive Leadership College.

The chief said he’s ready for this new opportunity, adding that he’s encountered challenges and experienced achievements over the past 27 years, but they all “have highlighted the power of teamwork among the police department, our broader city team, and the community within our 17 neighborhoods.”

“I am incredibly proud of how our collective efforts have succeeded in helping people and making our community a better place,” Buchiet said. “I am excited to further our efforts to improve the quality of life in Hamilton, drive our economic development forward, and celebrate the rich history and immense pride that defines our community.”

Bucheit, who grew up in Lindenwald, has been involved in several Hamilton and Butler County organizations and city boards over the years, including the Hamilton Ordinance Review Commission since 2010, Butler County Criminal Justice Board since 2015, Hamilton Nuisance Appeal Board since 2016, Butler County Coalition for Healthy, Safe & Drug-free Communities since 2016 and the Community Action Committee since 2021.

“When I was hired as a police officer, I was asked why I wanted the job, and I said it was because I want to help people and make a difference in my community,” he said. “That’s the same reason I want to be city manager. I see this as just an opportunity to continue that work, work that I’ve devoted my whole life to, and do it at the highest level.

His past affiliations include the UNITY City-Wide Faith-Based Alliance, Stephen T. Badin High School Board of Education and Hamilton Diversity and Inclusion Commission.

Bucheit will name an acting chief once he assumes his new role. The process to determine the next police chief will be governed by civil service rules from among a group of internal candidates.

Smith said City Council’s decision to hire Bucheit “is an excellent choice.”

“He is a very intelligent, thoughtful person who has a strong passion for our community,” he said. “He has a dedicated City Council and city team to work alongside. I look forward to Hamilton progressing under his leadership.”

Smith was hired in February as chief executive officer for the Butler County Finance Authority, an economic development agency previously called the Butler County Port Authority. That hiring is pending a March 27 vote.

It was stated at last week’s city council meeting that Smith’s first day leading the BCFA would be April 8. He has served as Hamilton’s city manager since September 2010.

“I extend my deepest thanks to Joshua Smith for his visionary leadership, and to the City Council for their relentless dedication and service,” Bucheit said. “Their contributions to our city’s success and growth cannot be overstated.”