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New Butler chief vows to make fighting drugs top priority

| Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, 6:10 p.m.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
New Butler police Chief Ronald Brown, seen here at headquarters last week, is a 24-year veteran of the force.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
New Butler police Chief Ronald Brown, seen here at headquarters last week, is a 24-year veteran of the force.

Butler's new police chief says drugs are the city's biggest problem, echoing the opinion of the new mayor who appointed him.

“There has always been a drug problem, but it is getting worse,” said Ronald Brown, a 24-year veteran of the Butler Police Department, who was named chief last week.

Mayor Tom Donaldson, who worked as a police officer or chief in the Butler County communities of Jackson, Franklin and Eau Claire, campaigned on increasing efforts to curb illegal drugs in the city.

He surprised many by naming Brown police chief four days after he took office. Donaldson said he didn't know Brown personally, but was impressed by his record.

“He's a go-getter. I looked at statistics, the number of arrests he made. He is a very hard worker. I have got nothing but good remarks about him,” Donaldson said.

Donaldson formed his plans for Butler and the police department when he knocked on 2,000 doors during the campaign, he said.

“Illegal drugs are what people talked about more than any other problem. It frustrates them. Drug use causes all kinds of other crimes,” he said.

Brown, 51, replaces Ronald Fierst, who has been chief for nearly two years and has worked at the department for 35 years.

Fierst will continue working at the rank of captain. He could not be reached for comment.

“I have nothing but the highest respect for him,” Donaldson said. “It was time for a change, though.“

Brown will earn $80,811 as chief. As a lieutenant, he earned a base salary of $62,000 plus overtime and extra pay for working certain shifts.

Donaldson said neighborhood crime watches and community policing can make his city safer.

Brown will oversee 22 officers. “I was not looking to be chief. It was offered the job, and I accepted. I am real happy with it,” Brown said.

A native of the city, Brown, whose father was a mill worker at Pullman Standard, graduated from Butler Area High School in 1980. He joined the police department several years after working other jobs.

“I love my job. I like to help people. I enjoy being around people,” he said.

The father of two children in middle school, Brown enjoys the outdoors, hunting, fishing and camping. He said camping trips with his family help ease the stress of police work.

“I like the outdoors. It's so peaceful. It's nice,” he said.

Rick Wills is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7944 or at rwills@tribweb.com.

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