Fairfield Twp. police chief resigns

Matthew Fruchey has offered his resignation as of Tuesday, March 28.

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Matthew Fruchey has offered his resignation as of Tuesday, March 28.

Fairfield Twp. Police Chief Matt Fruchey will step down at the end of today, just a month after one of his officers had his police cruiser stolen following a traffic stop.

The chief, nor the administration, commented as to why the resignation came today, but Fruchey told the Journal-News, “They want to make a change, and I’m ready for a change.”

The resignation comes on the heels of Kevin Gabbard, 37, of Hamilton, stealing a Fairfield Twp. police cruiser and fleeing following a traffic stop initiated by Officer Roger Gilbert. Gilbert did not face disciplinary actions.

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On Feb. 27, Gilbert was on patrol on Ohio 4 and saw a van matching the description of a vehicle suspected to have been involved in a robbery. When the officer stopped the van at Fairway Drive near Waldon Ponds, Gabbard, who was a passenger in the van, fled.

Then Gilbert chased Gabbard around a house before the suspect doubled back, jumped in the police cruiser and took off toward Hamilton.

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Board of trustees president Susan Berding confirmed Fruchey resigned and said, “It has been a pleasure working with him and we wish him the best in the future endeavor.”

Trustee Shannon Hartkemeyer said: “We’re just heading in a different direction, and that’s all I’m at liberty to say.”

Trustee Joe McAbee deferred comment to Berding and the administration.

Township Administrator Julie Vonderhaar declined to comment on the resignation, deferring to the Fairfield Twp. trustees.

According to the resignation agreement confirmed by the administratior, Fruchey will receive five weeks severance and benefits, as well as vacation time accrued.

According to the Ohio checkbook, his salary for 2015 was $87,500.

He’s also allowed not to seek township employment nor running for trustee. Also neither Fruchey nor the township can talk negatively about each other.

Fruchey was hired by the township in 2013, becoming the Fairfield Twp. Police Department’s fifth chief since it became a full-time agency in 1975.

He retired as the Glendale police chief in 2007 and owned a training and consulting firm. Fruchey, who was involved with the Cincinnati Railroad Company, was a conductor for the Norfolk Southern Railroad.

There hasn’t been any discussion who would be appointed interim chief, but Berding said the board will have to meet before one is named. She said the board may need to call a special meeting. Fairfield Twp. Sgt. Doug Lanier is the acting officer in charge until an interim chief is named.

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