(Posted May 21, 2019)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
The village of West Jefferson is on the search for a new police chief.
Richard “Rick” Hardy announced earlier this month that he has accepted a job with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office working with the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission. Hardy has served as West Jefferson’s police chief since March 2018. His last day was May 22.
Detective Sgt. Brandon Smith is serving as interim chief until Mayor Ray Martin names a new chief. Martin has posted the opening internally and externally and said he will convene a committee to advise him in the selection process. The committee will include the chair of village council’s police committee, a retired state trooper and a retired police chief.
As for when he will name a replacement, Martin said, “I’d hope to have a new chief in the Fourth of July parade.”
Council members thanked Hardy for his service at the May 20 council meeting.
“You’ve made it easier for the next person. You got a lot done,” said council member Mike Conway.
“You will be missed,” added council member Jennifer Warner.
Hardy said he appreciated his time with the West Jefferson department and emphasized that any accomplishments were the result of a group effort.
In a post on the department’s Facebook page, Hardy noted the work the department has done to increase visibility, increase training and education for officers, and build relationships with residents, the school district, public agencies and businesses.
“You have read and heard me say this many times, ‘Working together, we keep West Jefferson safe,’ and I ask that you keep doing this,” he stated in the post.
Hardy starts his new job on May 28.
“It is a position in which I will be able to help more officers across the state,” he said.
In other police news, Martin administered the oath of office to T.J. Hammons, the department’s newest full-time officer. With the addition of Hammons, West Jefferson’s police force stands at nine full-time officers and one part-time officer.
Martin said he still needs to fill four more positions, two to replace officers who left the department and two to fill new positions council approved for this year. He said he received 23 applications. He has narrowed the pool to seven and hopes to hire the final four from that pool.