Franklin Twp. names new police chief


By Amanda Amsel
Staff Writer

There is a new police chief in Franklin Township.

At a recent board meeting, the trustees approved promoting Sergeant Byron Smith from interim chief to permanent police chief. A 14-year veteran of the department, Smith has a wide variety of leadership experience.

“I have served as the grievance representative for the township for three years prior to being promoted to sergeant,” Smith said. “I also served as sergeant for one year before being placed in the position of interim chief.”

Smith has an education background in law enforcement, getting his associate’s degree in criminal justice.

When asked why Smith was the best candidate for the position, the trustees said he overwhelmingly met their qualifications.

“He has been here for a long time and has done a great job in the township,” Don Cook said. “We always want to hire from within when possible and Byron was a great candidate, so it was an easy decision.”

Smith will replace former Franklin Township Police Chief Al Wheeler. Wheeler was with the department for two and half years before taking a position with another police department in the fall of 2015. Since Wheeler has left, Smith has served as interim police chief.

Wheeler is the second police chief to leave the department in five years, his previous predecessor left the department after two years.

When asked what goals Smith has for the police department, he said they are lofty, but realistic.

“My initial goal for the police department is to return to 24/7 coverage to effectively serve our community,” he said. “In five years, with the passage of a police levy, I would like to see the police department back to that coverage. My goal would be to be back up to 11 full-time officers at a minimum.”

Smith said he would also like to revisit the K-9 program and some other community relations programs, such as having officers assigned to foot patrol during certain times and in certain neighborhoods.

As a sergeant, Smith ran the day-to-day operations of the police department and said he has in-depth knowledge of the township, an excellent relationship with the community and businesses, something that will be a huge asset as he takes on this new leadership role.

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