Don 'Budda' Rumbutis retires from SPD

SANDUSKY Wearing his signature blue tool vest and a USB drive on a string around his neck, the last
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

SANDUSKY

Wearing his signature blue tool vest and a USB drive on a string around his neck, the last Sandusky police officer hired in the 1970s will soon walk out the door and into retirement.

Officer Don "Budda" Rumbutis works his last day Wednesday after nearly 29 years as a patrol officer and most recently as the department's computer investigations guru.

Rumbutis, 50, is described by his colleagues as jolly and always ready to lend a helping hand.

"His looks are very deceiving," said Det. Mark Volz, who once worked road patrol with Rumbutis. "He's actually very fleet of foot."

Volz said he once watched Rumbutis, who was wearing ankle-high work boots, easily chase down and tackle a young sprinter.

The third-oldest of seven children, Rumbutis grew up in North Ridgeville, Ohio, with an English and Lithuanian background. He graduated from high school in 1975 and immediately signed up for a three-year military tour, serving in Germany as a policeman.

He was hired by Sandusky police in 1979.

"It's always good to be a good guy," he said. "In the movies the good guy always wins. I like being on the winning side."

During the last three decades Rumbutis said he's seen a variety of changes in the department. The days of dispatchers pushing and pulling cords like old telephone operators are long gone, he said.

"I can't run as many red lights as I used to," he said with a chuckle. Now police cruisers are equipped with video cameras.

Typing up reports was a lot more tedious before computers he said.

"Back then taking stock in Wite-Out was a good thing," he said.

The physical layout of the police department has also changed a great deal, Rumbutis said. It used to house about 45 inmates and had a 100-foot shooting range on the ground floor.

During his years on patrol Rumbutis spent some time operating a K-9 unit in the 1980s.

"I liked being out on the road," he said. "You could actually see the heartbeat of the city."

One of his most memorable times on the force came while boiling marijuana and toy balls in an attempt to train the police dog to go after the drug.

The water boiled out of the crock pot, and it caught fire inside the police garage, alerting other officers and the fire department. The building was saved, but Rumbutis wasn't spared from a little embarrassment.

From 1999 to 2001 he was the Sandusky Municipal Court officer. During the later years he transitioned into doing computer work for the department, an interest that started for Rumbutis in the 1980s.

"His name was always being taken in vain because of our computer system," Volz said. "He had to have broad shoulders to put up with all that verbal abuse."

Since then he has owned more than 10 computers and has taken state-certified training for computer forensics. He has become the "go to" man for computer help.

Rumbutis has managed the department servers and statistical data, along with conducting computer investigations. He has helped solved crimes such as eBay fraud and child pornography cases.

"He's going to be very difficult to replace," said police Chief Kim Nuesse. "He has a tremendous amount of expertise. He has the ability to multitask like no one I've seen."

In retirement Rumbutis said he plans to spend time with his wife of 14 years, Dawn, along with their three children, Anthony, 11, Sara, 9, and Alexandria, 7.

He also plans to operate his own personal computer repair business and volunteer with the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps, in which his son is involved.

Rumbutis said he will miss the people and personalities at the department most. As for his nickname? A small Buddha-shaped smoking device, confiscated as evidence, sits in his office as a reminder.

"I would rather them call me that (nickname) than other ones," he said with a laugh.