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Published: Wednesday, 7/19/2006

Pemberville: Chief takes his time in new post


Jeff Pawlecki said he's slowly but surely working tin hrough the adjustment period that naturally follows when an outsider jumps into a village police chief's position.

He said one of his biggest challenges is the mounds of paperwork that became his responsibility after he was sworn in as Pemberville's police chief late last month.

Yet his office is surprisingly organized, especially considering he's been on the job just two weeks.

"I hide the mess well," he said, laughing from behind a desk topped with a clear pendulum holding calming blue water slowly swaying up and down. Beyond his desk, police patches from other departments are hung side by side in vertical and horizontal lines on the baby blue walls of his office that comes complete with its own bathroom.

Mr. Pawlecki, 29, of Perrysburg said he was thrilled to be working as head of a police department. "It's something I've always wanted to do," he said. "It's just always a goal of a police officer to be a chief."

After 19 candidates applied for the job, Pemberville Mayor James Opelt halved the field and created three committees representativeof residents charged with recommending their top chief candidate.

After interviewing each applicant still in the running, Mayor Opelt said the committees came to a consensus to hire Mr. Pawlecki because he had experience in several areas that Pemberville needs, including

plicant still in the running, Mayor Opelt said the committees came to a consensus to hire Mr. Pawlecki because he had experience in several areas that Pemberville needs, includingskills in grant writing and running bicycle patrols.

"We just thought that he was very energetic and had new, fresh ideas to bring to the position," the mayor said.

"He's positive, and upbeat, and outgoing," the mayor said. "All those things are what I think fit well in a small community. He was our top candidate."

Pemberville needed a new chief because former Police Chief Robert Vespi, Jr., was hired as the chief in Rossford.

Mr. Pawlecki is responsible for overseeing a department with one other full-time employee, five part-time employees, and a large auxiliary.

He was given a one-year contract and will be paid $45,000 annually, the mayor said.

Mr. Pawlecki was born in 1976 and grew up in Maumee. After attending Maumee City Schools, he graduated from Owens Community College in 1998 with a criminal justice degree, completed his police academy training, and was hired in Wayne, Ohio, as a patrol officer.

After a year of learning the ropes, he switched over to become a patrol officer in Perrysburg until earlier this year. While in Perrysburg, he was a member of the bike patrol and was a Drug Abuse Resistance Education officer.

"I feel a big part of police work is to be a part of the community," he said, adding that he is looking forward to working with residents who live in a small town. "They care about you more and kind of want to get to know who you are."

Mr. Pawlecki said his family - his wife, Brooke; two daughters, and a son - still live in Perrysburg, but plan to move to Pemberville in the near future.

Also in the future, he said he wants to strengthen community relations, start a safety town for children entering kindergarten, and create a citizens' police academy to teach residents what officers do while on the job.

"This is someone who - we hope - we will have for awhile, so it's nice to have someone young and energetic to build the department," Mayor Opelt said.

"We just felt that he fit what Pemberville needed."

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