Opinion: Police chief search questioned

Matt Westerhold
Aug 11, 2012


Excerpt from Westerhold's Between the Lines column in tomorrow's Sunday Register:

Sandusky city commissioner Dee Cole contends the city's police chief search process was tainted and local candidates from the Perkins Police Department were inappropriately excluded from consideration for personal reasons that destroyed the integrity of the process.

Cole's pushing to have the search committee revamped and wants all of the applications reviewed "blindly" with no names attached. In that way, she said, residents can be assured the best person is selected in a process that is fair and free of any bias the personal histories any of the members of the committee might have. 

Lt. John Orzech, who is the only local candidate to make the list of finalists, in my opinion, would be a fine choice to lead the Sandusky Police Department. The other four candidates selected for further review might also be worthy of consideration, but if the process was tainted, as Cole suggests, then this long, slow journey will have been a waste of time and the city will be right back to where it started.


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Maybe Dee can add a link on the City Website so that people can submit their resume. 

Sorry about the joke, but Dee Cole is a joke and so is her false concern on this matter. 


Keep the process moving along and make a decision.



Isn't she on welfare? How does that qualify you to make any decisions involving a city when you can't even get by on your own


When 2 of the 5 members on the Search Committee have criminal records how can they be given the responsibility to help choose a police chief ? I VERY RARELY agree with anything Cole says , but this time I'm afraid she may be right.


I don't care what she has to say. I don't respect any of her opinions. I don't understand how anyone else does. One of many reasons is because she can't seem to live without government assistance. Who is she to tell us how to run the city? It's like hiring someone to be a CEO for your company that just got done filing for bankrupcy.


Another thing....All the resumes have been read by the people in charge and anyone that reads the Sandusky Register. How are you going to hold this "blind" review when everyone probably already knows which resume goes with which applicant. Something doesn't smell right here....


All applicants are open to the public's review.  A committee made up of residents should not be deciding who will be chosen for an interview because they have no HR educational background giving applicants with true qualifications a chance at a interview.  There was a cutoff time that applicants could submit applications and that time came and went with more people being added for consideration, how was that fair?  The city set the criteria for education and professional experience that the applicant must have and people were added that did not meet the criteria.  Only qualified professionals should have been looking at the applicants and deciding who will get to interview.  For Ms Cole to make statements like she did, places the city in possible litigation and she makes them just when the committee will be starting their interview process.  Is she trying to stall the interviews or does she want to restart the process all over again?  It seems there are a lot of people who want to put their hands into this process or would like to inject their influence besides the committee elected to do the job.

Matt Westerhold

Thanks for the comments beman and OnlyfoolsAssume. The answer to your question as to why commissioner Cole is qualified to cast votes or offer opinions on important city issues seems fairly obvious: She was elected to serve as a city commissioner. 

Thanks also to Darkhorse for the comment. I'm not sure whether the egg or the chicken came first.

If, and that's an important "if," the selection process was tainted, that likely came first. Cole's concern abouit it, and her comments didn't place the city in a "possible litigation" situation, the process did, if it was tainted, I would think. If it wasn't tainted, then the city should be able to show that and any litigation would be fruitless. 

It's a good thing, in my opinion, when commissioners are willing to publicly express their thoughts. It's also difficult, given the reaction they get from some here at the comments section or from the Register's editorial board, as well as reaction in the community and from their fellow commissioners. As a resident I prefer open dialogue over the "whispering campaigns" in which others might engage.


I agree with those who suggest that Ms. Cole is unqualified to be a City Commissioner due in no small part to her personal circumstances. That being said, Mr. Westerhold is right: Cole is a Commissioner because she was elected to the job. Whether or not she's qualified has little to do with her running, and everything to do with those who voted for her. Too bad City voters don't spend as much time vetting candidates—and choosing based on qualifications rather than on far more subjective criteria—as they do complaining about whoever it is they elect!

In my opinion, the search for a new police chief has been tainted from the first. There are questions as to how the members of the selection committee was chosen for one thing! The position should have been handled from the outset by the City Manager and the City's Human Resources Department. Should the Commission membership have input? Yes. Should they be a part of the interview process? Absolutely. But the City hired Ard as Manager, and the buck stops at HER desk where City employees are concerned. Either we trust Ard's expertise and qualifications to do HER job, or we don't. Well, Commissioners???


The personal history of the candidate is extremely relevant, more so than any other consideration. The idea of covering past performance is rediculous. The best predictor of future performance is past performance. Hiding the names of the candidates is not a good idea.


 Diedre (or Dee as you now call her) is mad because her hand picked man was eliminated. Move on with the process, and put this to bed.


 Deidre is saying its tainted due to the fact she wants a black police chief! 



Reviewing the resumes, I see a fake degree from an online diploma mill  from Mr. Dennis from California Coast University; Curtis Brame is a frequent flyer applicant whose background doomed him in Columbus MS for their chief's job. Several others are retired and not currently in law enforcement and are from other states to boot. And the FBI Academy is so overrated it is nearly a fraud. Who is in charge of this search? This city needs someone currently serving as a police chief of a full service city with a masters degree, a solid and clear background, and experience in a dreadful unionized setting. How hard is it to find that?

Julie R.

Sure didn't take Huron long to get a new police chief.  


True, she was elected that made her qualified. That's the sad part. It was more of a rhetorical question. What does that say for the city of Sandusky?


What we need is a chief who has experience turning around a troubled department. Anyone can go into pre-retirement and do nothing. The department will run itself (as it has been) in order to effect change you need someone who will be supported by city officials and probably hated initially by the troops.  The list of applicants are not worthy of the job.  City officials need to understand the process of change especially change like that is needed by SPD. Get a competent dictator on a 3 year contract, let them do their job and stay out of their way. Expect grumbling from within. None of the candidates are capable of this kind of change.

Amerian Dad

Ok so Ms. Cole is chapped in the hind quarters because the candidate she wanted didn't get a second look.  Why would that be?  Maybe because he was the right hand man of the local Chief who went away to Federal Prison a short time ago.  Or maybe it's because his own agency at the time passed him over for a Sergeant who was of lower rank from the same agency.  Whatever the reason, it is what it is.

Do I agree with the process? No.  Everyone is screaming fixed and/or the good ole boys committee.  But stop and think who picks the new Chiefs.  It's a commissioner and a committee of "community leaders.  Who defines the coummunity leaders?  So in fact it's our own City personnel who pick the candidates and then the City Manager has to go with the best of what he/she has been given.  Don't seem right.  

Wonder why the City doesn't do like a lot of Cities do when searching?  Use the Ohio Chiefs of POlice Association.  These are Police Chiefs and high ranking Officers who know what a Chief is to be made of.  I think an ouside agency to bring a final number to the City Manager would be less critisized and might result in better candidates.  Just my opinion.



Just Asking

Totally agree with American Dad.

Even Perkins uses the Police Chief and/or Fire Chief Association to do their assessments.  All information is evaluted by them and they present a list of possible candidates based on resumes, background checks, etc.  Then a set number are called in for the Association panel to do a full assessment - several what if situations. 

Was this done at Sandusky?

After that the candidates are again evaluated based on the assessments. 

Would be interesting to see how the former Perkins right hand man did in the Perkins's assessment.  Perhaps that is why he was not considered for the position in the City.  


This entire police chief search has been a joke from the beginning.  Mr Lang should NEVER have been allowed any where NEAR the committee.  He should have had nothing to do with the process. 

Ms Ard didn't need a committee to assist her in any decision making process.  She should have made this decision herself.  It is part of her job, not a select group from the city of sanduky.  That was just plain ridiculous to begin with

I will tell you I am less than satiisfied with Ms Ard altogether in her efforts as the City Manager.  I would tell her that to her face if I see her.  She does not seem on top of things at all. 

This whole process is taking far too long and I think she is being unfairly influenced by too many people in this whole process,  The NAACP, this committee, the commissioners and the chief.  That is why it IS taking too long.

Any other city manager would have chosen by now and most of the city residence know it.  The good old boy network is alive and well and hard at work.

Most of us already know it is buisness as usual so why not just say it is going to be the big "O" and give it to him now so we can all move on.

That should make every one happy except Dee and she won't be happy at all anyway. 


The last thing I would want on my resume, is that I was McClung's second in command. But, afterall, they did do things together, like lawsuits, smoke screens, etc. Speaking of togetherness, did  that convict of an ex-chief move into the same house that another ex-chief lived in. Looks like some type of connection is still there. And hey Mattie, where's the big article and/or interview about that convicts release. Or are you guys not BFF's anymore?


 Every time I turn on the commission meeting on Ch81 I scratch my head in DISBELIEF.........................So I guess my Question to them is what the hell can take so long? By the time this commission or their "Search Team" gets around to making their decision, The Pesidential election will have come and gone.


Do you think it's right? To be taken off the list because you investigated a current commissioner? To be taken off the list because you arrested a current commissioners son? To be taken off the list because you worked for PERKINS? Sorry kids, I agree with commissioner Cole on this one. Personal bias should not be allowed. A certin commissioner needs to be excused from this process.  


@Fireside.....please read my posting about the meeting.  How do you know what person was removed and for what reason?  Are you on that committee?  Who told you what person was removed and why?  I would love to know that one as it was brought up tonight at the meeting and it seemed no one knew the answer.  How do you know, please? 


 I wouldn't use the assessment scam either, a bunch of retired or failed police chiefs looking for additional income.  Hire a professional consulting firm, lay out what you are looking for in a chief. If you want organizational change give them a long leash and a 3 year contract. Don't listen to the gripes on the force, they clearly do not want change. Have the same consulting firm monitor their progress. Once the place is fixed the next cheif can come from within.  I would not hire anyone who claims to have a degree from a paper mill and noone from the area had a sterling reputation. 


I thought this whole thing a joke too, until tonight. 

Some of you should have attended the Commissioners meeting tonight if you had ANY questions about the process for hiring the new police chief.  It was explained completely by the law director and you should have seen some of the commissioners faces.  (I shall not tell you who's faces didn't look up during the explanation).  That came after the fireworks of several minutes of name calling and "you are a liar" being slung by one commissioner in particular who obviously does NOT know what a commissioners job is.

But after the explanation from the charter was read it was pretty obvious that the committee is right and the commissioners who are complaining and some of YOU are wrong as well.

The committee has it RIGHT.  Too bad if some people around here don't like it.  It sounds an awful lot like someone made a promise they can't keep and now they are upset by it.  That is too bad as well.  But the committee got it right and Ms Cole has not one gripe coming. 

So too bad for whoever out there has their little noses out of joint and doesn't like it.  The five are on deck and the decision will come from the five on that list.  It gets whittled down to three from the five after a police association does testing with the five.  Then Ms Ard will make the final decsion from the top three candidates. 

Cole can't change it, no one else can either.  So if someone is complaining it is just too bad now, because if promises where made or someone talked out of turn or is making up stories or complaining, the committee followed the law and its too late now. 

Nothing is tainted, poisoned, ruined or spoiled just because Cole says it is.  The law director pretty much set her straight on that one at the meeting tonight.  IN SPADES. 


Mama...I didn't name names. I just asked a question, Do you think it's right for personal bias? Stick this in your memory bank....it will come back to bite the city. Go buy some nuts and bolts and listen for the whole story.  


@ Fireside: 

I heard the "whole story" at the council meeting and I can tell you that this whole thing is a personal agenda and a conflict of interest on the part of a certain city council member. Not the committee  Not councilman Brown. 

And as I said, how do you know any of that is true?  That is why I was asking how you knew or where you got your info?  If you know that for a fact, I would love to know how you go the information? 

It sounds to me like you do not know.  And as for nuts and bolts, I am not interest.  I deal with facts, not innuedno and misinformation. 


Same old, same old.Always personal agendas from our elected idiots.

God Of Thunder

I thought 'As the World Turns' went off the air... Holy crap, i'm glad I don't live in the city anymore, but I do work in it all the time so before I hear anything from anyone about it, there you go; and I do have a vested interest in the city...

First of all, I know Pervis on a business level and somewhat of a personal level, and he would never be this narrow minded.. Kudos to Jeff Smith for standing behind him..

Thank god Cole can't pull the black card, otherwise the city would be in an uproar, so she can't blame Pervis for that.

Pervis is an upstanding citizen, landlord, and altogether person for the city of Sandusky, as is Jeff Smith..

Dee cole, as I'm sure everyone knows, seems to enjoy stirring up the pot, and yes, I believe she does recieve some 'public' assistance.

I do agree that a process shouldn't take this long to pick someone, especially from outside the city..(I hope these candidates did their research on the history of the department in the last several years)  I do get to interact with several of the police officers in town, and never have a problem with any of them.

Orzech, I think, would be the best choice for Chief since he has been through everything that has gone on during these down spiral times and has stuck it out with this police force.


@ God of Thunder...if I thought the paper wouldn't pull my comments on Ms Cole,  I would tell you what I really think, but I will behave....lol. 

I can tell you that I cannot agree with you more on ALL of your comments here.  Mr Brown is INDEED an excellent man and leader, as is Mr. Smith.  Excellently put.    I am just not sure I agree with your choice on the chief, but you may be right.

God Of Thunder

Thank you wiredmama...I appreciate that...And lmao about the pulling of the comments!!


Why even bother having a Chief?