The city called a last-minute news conference Friday and announced Jim Lang will replace Charlie Sams as its new interim police chief.
The change in leadership came about after several residents complained about mistakes made by the police department, interim city manager Don Icsman said.
City officials hope a change in leadership will move the department in a positive direction, Icsman said.
“It’s no secret that recently there’s been a number of events and incidents in the community that have raised concerns and issues about the police department,” he said. “There have been criticisms as a result, that are both legitimate and gratuitous, I think.”
“But irrespective of that distinction, those criticism and questions I believe have negatively impacted the police department and the citizens that we all serve. ... (Lang) brings the leadership and experience now that we need during this time. I think it’s important that we do something sooner than later.”
Lang, who worked as the chief ranger for Erie MetroParks since 2002, will begin work part-time Tuesday as Sandusky’s interim police chief.
He will take over full-time duties in two weeks, once his notice with Erie MetroParks concludes.
Sams, who’s been on vacation this week, will return to his previous role as assistant chief when he returns.
The fact that Lang wanted to give Erie MetroParks two weeks notice and not leave them as soon as he received the city’s offer speaks to his professional and personal values, mayor Dan Kaman said.
“He’s well-respected in all aspects of the community,” Kaman said. “I think it’s going to be exactly what we need.”
The city began seriously looking for a full-time chief after retired Judge James Sherck’s decision last month to uphold Kim Nuesse’s termination.
Sams, who’s one year away from possible retirement, repeatedly said he didn’t want the job.
Kaman contacted the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police and shortly thereafter received a recommendation for Lang.
Lang, who’s known Icsman for many years, seemed like a good fit to the interim city manager because they already have a level of trust, Icsman said.
Lang supported Icsman when he ran for Sandusky municipal judge in 1995, and Icsman supported Lang when he ran for Erie County sheriff.
“We all felt that you have to stop the bleeding,” Icsman said of the department’s recent woes. “It’s just fortunate that Jim is available, that he’s from this community, that he’s familiar with law enforcement officials here and the sheriff. ... His experience speaks for itself.”
Lang has spent more than 38 years in law enforcement.
He spent 25 years at the Perkins Township Police Department from 1972-96, where he reached the rank of senior sergeant, a rank that was second-in-command at the time.
From 1997-2002, he served as chief of the Put-in-Bay Police Department. He oversaw 49 officers in the summer, which is slightly larger than Sandusky’s current police staff.
Lang understands the challenges at the Sandusky Police Department, city officials said, but he’s ready to face them.
“It’s my honor to take over the helm and see what we can do,” Lang said. “Hopefully, we can make things better.”
Icsman said he spoke with Sams on Friday morning, and Sams approved of the move.
Lang also will embrace the forthcoming ICMA analysis, which the city commission recently approved.
The ICMA’s analysis will measure the department’s strengths and inefficiencies, and give recommendations on how the department can improve.
The study will help Lang evaluate the department faster than he otherwise would be able to, he said.
“The more information you get ... the better,” he said.
Lang will make $85,000, but will not receive health care benefits. He will get the required amount of sick leave and three weeks vacation.
If Nuesse’s reinstated by the 6th District Court of Appeals, she will get her job back, Icsman said.
But Lang said he will remain police chief for “as long as they want,” referring to city officials.
Kaman called Lang’s hiring “a good new beginning.”
“I think it’s going to give us some direction, our department some direction, some leadership and chain of command,” Kaman said. “We’re now going to have a go-to guy. There’s not much that’s going to happen in Sandusky that Mr. Lang hasn’t seen before.”
To watch video of Friday's press conference announcing the change click on the player below
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