Longtime Cincinnati police commanders apply for West Chester Township police chief job

22 apply to be top cop in Ohio's largest township

CINCINNATI – Two longtime Cincinnati police officers have applied for the West Chester Township police chief job that’s been vacant since early May.

District 2 commander Capt. Jeffrey Butler Jr, and former Assistant Police Chief Vincent Demasi applied for the position that can pay more than $100,000 per year, according to township spokesperson Barb Wilson.

The salary range is wide: $73,600 to a maximum of $114,252.

“That is the range for most of the department directors in the township,” said Judi Boyko, the township administrator. “We certainly will make an offer commensurate with qualifications and experience, but that really is the floor and the ceiling.”

By the numbers:

- 44,531 calls for service in 2013

- 20,745 calls for service through June 2014

- 1,486 reported serious crime in 2013 (homicide, robbery, aggravated assaults, rape, burglary, larceny, auto theft and arson)

- 702 reported serious crime through June 2014

- 82 sworn police officers and 10 civilian staff

- 22 candidates applied for the position

- 1 internal candidate

- 11 in-state candidates

- 11 out-of-state candidates

Erik Niehaus stepped down May 3 from the police department to pursue a career as an attorney. Niehaus, who was promoted to West Chester’s police chief in December 2008, submitted his letter of resignation to township trustees April 4.

Butler, a Cleves, Ohio, resident, and an Elder High School alumnus, has been a Cincinnati police captain for the last nine years and has been with the department his entire 28-year policing career. Since May 2013, he’s been in command of the city’s largest geographical district on the east side.

This time last year, incidents in every violent crime category reported to police in District 2 were up, with rape reports showing the largest increase of 56 percent. Violent crime was up 22 percent. Under his command spanning the last year, violent crime is down 22 percent with robbery showing the largest decrease at 33 percent.

Butler is also largely credited as being a key architect in the building of the city’s closed-circuit camera network. He spent a year as commander of the technology and systems section, responsible for technology infrastructure, namely camera surveillance and license plate reader networks.

Butler declined comment for this story, citing he prefers to wait for the completion of the screening process.

Demasi, most recently police chief of the West Palm Beach Police Department in Florida, resigned May 4 to be closer to home. He’s been rumored to be interested in a number of jobs, including the open University of Cincinnati police chief job, and he also applied for the Cincinnati top cop position after former Cincinnati Police Chief James Craig bolted for Detroit.

In June 2012, Demasi retired as an assistant police chief in Cincinnati and was hired to lead the West Palm Beach Police Department following a national search. He had spent 37 years at the Cincinnati department, starting as a cadet. He was the first outsider to run the West Palm Beach department in 25 years.

Township administrator Boyko said the three township trustees will have the ultimate hiring decision, but she is responsible for making recommendations to the board. In addition to a proven track record of community policing, Boyko breaks down desired skills into general groups: hard and soft skills.

Hard skills include the day-to-day operations of a community law enforcement department, including budgeting and personnel moves.

“I am interpreting soft skills as the sharing of those skills that are personality-driven,” Boyko said. “How well can a candidate perform in our community and in our organization? Do they place an emphasis on being cooperative and collaborative with township departments?

“How well are they able to understand subtly through communication?”

West Chester Township is about 36 square miles with a population of 61,449, representing the largest township in Ohio. The population balloons to more than 100,000 with an additional 50,000 daytime employees coming to work in the township.

The police chief will oversee a budget of about $14.5 million – or about 35 percent of the township’s total budget. The police department is funded through a voter-approved levy.

“Ideal candidates should have at a minimum a four-year degree from an accredited college or university and specialized training,” read the official job posting, which closed on July 11. The position, however, will remain open until it's filled. The job posting mentioned Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy (OPOTA) certification as a preference.

Officials said they expect to hire someone with OPOTA certification, either to already posses one or acquire one.

"While it is a factor, education is certainly not driving the search for this position," Boyko said.

Other Notable Applicants

The only internal candidate to apply for the job was Capt. Joel Herzog, a 23-year veteran of the department. He currently serves as the patrol bureau commander, responsible for overseeing the operations of the patrol section, warrants unit, fleet management and equipment management section. He oversees what is typically the largest bureau in municipal police departments.

He attended the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va., and earned a bachelor’s degree in management from Indiana Wesleyan University. He earned his high school diploma from Princeton High School.

Thomas Doyle, the chief ranger of the Great Parks of Hamilton County, oversees policing at 21 parks throughout the county. He was hired in January 2013, after a 26-year policing career with the Village of Greenhills. He ascended through the ranks and was promoted to police chief in 2005 and served for eight years.

During his tenure, the department received a state grant in 2006 to upgrade the records management system, which included an electronic barcode system for the evidence room, according to his resume.

He also served as a Hamilton County Sheriff’s deputy from 1976 to 1979. He’s earned extensive training in disaster and mass-casualty response. He graduated from Roger Bacon High School in 1971.

READ: Crime and justice stories from Kareem Elgazzar
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