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Published: Thursday, 8/28/2003

Perrysburg police move temporarily; chief set to retire

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Before Perrysburg Police Chief Nelson Evans moves on, he had to move out.

Chief Evans, who retires Sept. 16, packed up and went down to his temporary office in the basement of the municipal building Friday, official moving day for the police division.

Police will work out of the basement until the new police station, which is under construction, is built and ready to occupy. The old police station, along Walnut Street near Indiana Avenue, is being demolished to make room for the new building.

Chief Evans wasn't invited to the groundbreaking in June for the new station, but he was scheduled to be on the list of people invited to the ribbon-cutting for the structure when it opens in about 16 months. He recently submitted his retirement notice to the city.

Mr. Evans, who has been Perrysburg's police chief since May, 2000, has served with the police division for more than 25 years. He decided to retire in part because of ongoing issues at City Hall during the last year.

His job performance had come under fire by the city administration. He was suspended without pay on June 5 for allegedly failing to inform the city administrator of an investigation of a police officer for drawing a weapon in inappropriate circumstances and for inattention to disciplinary provisions of the collective bargaining agreement regarding the same matter.

“It comes down to philosophical differences and a matter of trust,” Chief Evans said. There no longer was a level of trust between him and the administration, he said, adding that “I think you need to have that to work as a team.”

Some residents contended that the chief was left off the invitation list for the groundbreaking because of a retaliatory move by city officials after Mayor Jody Holbrook's son was arrested by Perrysburg police on drug charges.

City officials contended that the chief was absent from the ceremony simply because of an oversight. Residents rallied in support of the chief, putting up yard signs and making calls to City Hall. The mayor later publicly apologized for the oversight.

Chief Evans said that he never really had a problem with the mayor. “I told everybody before that the mayor never asked for special favors,” he said.

Mayor Holbrook said that the city will begin the process to hire a new police chief.

Chief Evans, 49, said that Perrysburg has a fine police division. Although he was rebuffed by the administration when he attempted to get management-type training for some of the police division's staff, he said that he is very confident in the leadership in the department, including Lt. Rick Gilts.

Chief Evans said Lieutenant Gilts has the training and education needed to become the next police chief in Perrysburg, and that the officer is very involved with the community and is well-known. “He would be the perfect choice for my replacement,” he said.

Cost for the police station project is about $6 million, including converting the basement of the municipal building into temporary housing for the police division.

“A lot of people have begged me to stay, and I have said I would love to, but there is too much conflict,” the chief said. “I think things need to move forward and get away from the issues. It is time to move on.”



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