Many Big Walnut area residents know that Sunbury Police Chief Pat Bennett officially retires next Friday, February 24. There will be public a reception for Bennett from 1:30 until 4 p.m. on the first floor of Sunbury Town Hall during Bennett’s last day wearing the chief’s badge.
“A chief of police like Pat Bennett will be impossible to replace,” said Sunbury Mayor Tommy Hatfield. “Pat has the perfect balance as the Chief of Police, and he’s a life-long Sunbury resident. Pat is a big part of the local Big Walnut community, not only as our Chief of Police, but also as a friend to many.”
Hatfield said Bennett’s greatest quality is that he has always put the community first.
“Please come out on February 24 and celebrate Chief Pat Bennett’s career as we honor his service to the Village of Sunbury as our Chief of Police.”
Hatfield said the search for Bennett’s replacement continues. In August of 2016, members of Sunbury Village Council contracted with the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP) to assist the village in finding candidates to fill the Sunbury Police Department chief’s position.
The OACP came up with a list of 16 candidates. There was a six-candidate short list, four were interviewed, three extensively, with two finalists. The two finalists subsequently decided not to accept the position.
Hatfield said this past Sunday (Feb. 12) that he and Sunbury Village Administrator Alan Rothermel are reviewing the OACP list of candidates and are also discussing other options if a qualified candidate could not be found on that list.
“I’m confident we’ll be able to find the best candidate for the Village of Sunbury,” Hatfield said. “We may have to take some additional time, do a little more work, but we intend to find the right candidate to lead our police department as we grow into a city.”
Sunbury Village Council members had originally approved spending up to $7,000 for the pre-assessment by an OACP staff of trained law enforcement professionals. Hatfield did not indicate if the village would seek additional services from the OACP to broaden the search for additional candidates.
Reporter Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093.