New Butler Township police chief ready for duty
The new police chief of Butler Township says he'll step up training for officers to ensure they're ready to respond to incidents such as the shooting at the elementary school in Newtown, Conn.
He also wants his officers to share their expertise and training with each other.
“I want the whole department to take advantage of the training,” said John Hays, 58, who replaced Gary Garman, 65, after he retired in January.
With his wife, Susan, pinning his badge on him, township commissioners swore Hays into the top post of the department March 18.
Hays, who will earn just under $81,000 annually, spent his entire law enforcement career in the township where he was born. He was promoted to lieutenant, or second in command of the department, in 2006.
He is a 1976 graduate of Penn State University with a bachelor's degree in law enforcement and corrections, and was hired in 1979.
He has also been a member of the Butler County District Attorney's Drug Task Force, and served with child abuse and death review investigative teams.
Hays will oversee a department of nearly two dozen employees with a 2013 budget of $1.967 million. The township has a population of nearly 17,250, and includes the VA Butler Healthcare complex and several large retail developments, including Butler Commons and Moraine Pointe Plaza.
Hays said he'd like his officers to get to know the new Butler Area School District security guards, retired state police officers hired late last year, because township officers respond to calls there, including fights and theft complaints.
Hays added he doesn't plan major departmental changes because it ran well under the former chief.
“There may be some little stuff, but no major changes,” said Hays. “I think we're pretty solid.” He hasn't named his second in command.
Commissioners did not conduct an outside search for a chief. Hays will be on job probation for six months.
“There was no need to look outside the department when you have a person like that already there, who is qualified and has the respect of the commissioners and the officers,” said Ben Simon, commission president.
Township manager Ed Kirkwood said commissioners had an “internal discussion about who is the best qualified” for the chief's post and unanimously chose Hays.
“He brings a wealth of experience, he brings a wealth of enthusiasm, and he brings a wealth of commitment,” Kirkwood said.
The number of service calls dropped in the past five years, according to a 2012 annual report that Hays submitted to the township last month. The largest number of calls — 790 — was for traffic complaints. The department made 1,558 arrests in 2012, down from 1,621 in the previous year, and 1,737 traffic citations or arrests.
“I'm happy for the support (commissioners) have shown me and the confidence to lead us into the future,” Hays said.
Hays enjoys fishing, and he and his wife have three sons and six grandchildren.
Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.