Cedarville is searching yet again for a new police chief, the fourth in just over a year.
Blayne Irvin recently resigned from his position as Cedarville chief of police after he was asked to do so by Mayor Glenanna O’Mara, she said.
"I asked him to resign because he really didn’t have enough time for the department, and he agreed," O’Mara said.
O’Mara noted that her request had nothing to do with Irvin’s performance, and more to do with budget constraints that prevent the city from making the position full-time with an appropriate salary.
"We appreciate Blayne Irvin and his efforts here," O’Mara said. "It’s not about the officer. It’s about being able to pay a full-time police chief."
Cedarville’s police chief receives a salary of $13,500 and is expected to work a minimum of 20 hours, O’Mara said.
"Time restraints come because there is a lack of funding to be able to afford a full-time police chief, and we do not blame anyone for not being able to do full-time hours on that salary," O’Mara said.
Crawford County Prosecutor Marc McCune agrees with O’Mara’s assessment of the problem, he said.
"When you pay someone $13,500, how many hours can you expect them to put in?" McCune asked. "I don’t think they have any dedicated funds set aside for that police department, and I think that’s part of the problem."
Irvin was a full-time officer with the Van Buren Police Department, but McCune said he quit to make more money at Simmons Foods while continuing to work as police chief for Cedarville. Irvin was unable to be reached for comment.
Irvin is the fourth police chief to leave the Cedarville Police Department since July of 2013, and the fifth since the department was created by former mayor Danny Armstrong.
McCune brought attention to the issue with a recent Facebook post that questioned the stability of the CPD and asked residents their thoughts on having the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department patrol Cedarville.
In McCune’s opinion, the department has had issues since its inception, with the first chief lasting only a few short months. The chief’s son, who also worked for the CPD and left the same time as his father, was prosecuted shortly thereafter for stealing city property, McCune said.
David Goss replaced the first chief, and remained in the position for several years before retiring in June of 2013, citing health reasons. Mark Gentry was fired last October for undisclosed reasons, and Joseph Johnson quit in November of 2011 because of time constraints.
Several officers also left the police department when Goss quit, and six left when Gentry was fired. McCune said 10-15 officers have quit the CPD since last year.
"So you’ve got that constant turnover, not just chiefs but those under them, as well," McCune said.
When officers quit, they leave cases that are not being worked or no one with knowledge about those cases, which slows down prosecution, McCune said. Former officers are often less willing to testify, he said.
Cedarville city officials are hoping to resolve personnel issues in the police department by increasing the salary for the police chief, something that O’Mara said is in the works.
Capt. Andrew McIntosh is filling in temporarily until a new chief is found, though he is not looking to make the position permanent, O’Mara said.
O’Mara is processing and interviewing applicants, and will hire a new chief "as soon as possible," she said.