The Sandusky post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, rocked by a racially-charged prank that cost two troopers their jobs, will have a new post commander who is black.
Lt. Darryl L. Edge replaces Greg Greggila, who was in charge of the post in January when one trooper dressed up in a KKK-like outfit while another trooper snapped his photo. The incident outraged many in the area and focused the spotlight of the national media on the post and the highway patrol.
Greggila requested a voluntary demotion from lieutenant to sergeant and a transfer to the Fremont post.
Edge, who most recently worked at the Mt. Gilead post, was promoted from sergeant to lieutenant Wednesday by State Patrol Superintendent Richard H. Collins. Edge will start his duties at Sandusky immediately, according to the patrol. He spent Wednesday celebrating his promotion with family members and was not available for comment, the patrol said.
Edge graduated from the patrol academy in 1989. He is described as a strong leader who instills loyalty amongst the troops and is an excellent communicator.
"He is a soft-spoken, personable commander that basically has developed a reputation for his communication skills, and that's clearly what we are looking for in Sandusky -- that environment of open communication both internally and externally," District 2 commander Capt. Herb Homan said. Edge will report to Homan, who oversees 10 posts in the district.
Homan did not shy away from discussing Edge's race and its impact on the patrol's decision to promote him to the commander position in Sandusky.
"Quite frankly if we're going to discuss the issue of him being an African-American male, he brings insight to the table they didn't have before, and I see that as a benefit -- not as some sort of concession that maybe some people are calling it," Homan said.
Thirteen troopers were assigned to the Sandusky post at the time of the KKK prank, none of whom were black.
In the KKK incident Trooper Eric Wlodarsky snapped a picture with a cell phone of trooper Craig Franklin after Franklin dressed up in KKK-like garb while both were on duty on Jan. 20, the day before Martin Luther Jr. Day. The picture was sent to a third trooper via text message. Wlodarsky and Franklin both said the picture was taken as a joke based on a skit by comedian Dave Chappelle.
Franklin and Wlodarsky were originally allowed to retain their jobs because of a collective bargaining agreement.
After the Register uncovered details of the troopers' behavior and the Sandusky chapter of the NAACP demanded they be terminated, Gov. Ted Strickland got involved. At his request, both troopers were fired.
Franklin and Wlodarsky are fighting to be reinstated, and both have filed grievances through their union. The grievance hearings are not expected to take place until July.
A native of Lima, Edge is a 1984 graduate of Chaminade University in Honolulu, where he earned a bachelor's degree in general studies with a concentration in history. In September 1988 he joined the patrol as a cadet dispatcher at the Lima post. He graduated from the patrol's 118th Academy Class in 1989 and was a classmate of Homan's.
He was assigned to the Van Wert post, where he earned post trooper of the year honors in 1993 and 1995. In 1996 he was post and district trooper of the year.
The post trooper award is voted on by the trooper's peers, Homan said.
Promoted to sergeant in May 1997, Edge was named the assistant post commander of the Van Wert Post. He was transferred to the Defiance post in May 1999 and the Mt. Gilead post in January 2006.
Edge lives in Delaware, Ohio, is married and has three children.
His first official day on the job is supposed to be today, but instead he'll be in a Mt. Gilead courtroom, where he's been subpoenaed to testify in a case, the patrol said.