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Published: Wednesday, 4/20/2011

Patrolman rises through ranks to become chief in Sylvania Twp.

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Rob Boehme, Sylvania Township's new police chief, shows a patrol car that features the community's updated graphic. His father was in law enforcement too. Rob Boehme, Sylvania Township's new police chief, shows a patrol car that features the community's updated graphic. His father was in law enforcement too.
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Rob Boehme thought for sure he would one day become a lawyer.

Even when he quit law school after one semester to fill an open patrolman's job at the Sylvania Township Police Department in 1981, he was sure he would someday go back and finish his law degree.

But the pull of police work was strong -- especially since Mr. Boehme was following the footsteps of his father, Robert, a longtime Toledo officer and, from 1970 until 1985, Sylvania Township's police chief. "Someday" never came.

He rose through the department's ranks and, on April 8, was promoted to police chief by the township trustees.

"I found that I liked law enforcement, and being a police officer, so much, that this was the career for me," Chief Boehme said last week.

But he also noted that he had admired his father "a great deal" and often had gone on fishing trips and the like with Dad and "his cop friends."

"I was raised in an environment with a lot of police officers," the new chief recalled.

A member of Sylvania High School's Class of 1974 and a 1978 University of Toledo graduate, Chief Boehme worked for United Parcel Service for several years before enrolling in law school and then joining the police department.

Like many officers, he vividly remembers some of the more unusual emergency calls from his career.

About a year in, he and fellow Officer Terry Van Sant were sent to a house on a burglary call and arrived while the suspect was still inside.

"We snuck into the house and waited for him to come to us," Chief Boehme recalled.

Another time, then-Officer Boehme was responding to an armed bank robbery call when he saw the suspects' vehicle fleeing the scene and chased it. Chief Boehme recalled having to break off the pursuit because the robbers' car caused a traffic accident, but Toledo police made the collar just down the road based on his updated information about the vehicle.

But while catching criminals may be the glamorous side of police work, Chief Boehme said community service is equally important.

"Helping others in times of crisis or difficulty, or making them feel safe in their homes and community, is as important as any arrest," he said.

During his spare time, Chief Boehme works out, plays softball and other sports, travels to hike in the mountains and fish, and tends a garden at home. "What some people consider work, being out in the yard, is a great day for me," he said. "It just clears your mind, doing physical stuff."

The vote to promote Chief Boehme was split, with trustee Kevin Haddad dissenting. Mr. Haddad explained afterward that he wanted a broader search conducted before making a decision, and that officers he had spoken with were unhappy with Chief Boehme's leadership during the five months had been chief on an interim basis.

Chief Boehme said last week he could not believe that there were more than "one or two officers in a 44-officer department" who felt that way.

"We're a very together department," the new chief said, noting that nearly everyone had attended his father's funeral early last year.

And Chief Boehme, 54, whose new salary is $87,910, said he is dedicated to the township department, where he expects to stay until he retires. He said he "almost went to the FBI in the early 1990s," but chose to stay with the township police, and that the police schedule was clearly "the single biggest factor" in his amicable divorce from the mother of his two children.

"I'm very devoted to this job," he said. "And if I can earn half the respect my Dad earned, I'll feel successful."



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