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Published: Sunday, 7/30/2006

Holland chief kills self after pursuit

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Doug Kaiser: Holland's police chief for the last 17 years. Doug Kaiser: Holland's police chief for the last 17 years.
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SIDNEY, Ohio - The police chief of the Toledo suburb of Holland shot and killed himself Friday night in his sport utility vehicle in Sidney after being pursued by officers from two police departments as well as Shelby County sheriff's deputies, authorities said.

Doug Kaiser, 45, who was chief of the village in western Lucas County for the last 17 years, shot himself in the head with a handgun after a chase of about 10 minutes. He was taken to Wilson Memorial Hospital in Sidney, where he was pronounced dead. The Montgomery County Coroner's Office will conduct an autopsy.

The Sidney Police Department released little information about the incident, and Holland Mayor Mike Yunker declined to discuss the circumstances surrounding the chief's death.

Village Administrator Harry Barlos said Chief Kaiser early last week requested Friday off work to go camping. Mr. Barlos said he had no other information about the chief's trip.

Mr. Yunker described Chief Kaiser as "very dedicated to his officers" as well as the community.

"He organized the Safety City program for the village, which has been ongoing for 10 years, he worked closely with Springfield Local Schools, and he was instrumental in getting school resource officers in schools," the mayor said.

"He grew up here in the Holland community, and was very well known and respected," Mayor Yunker said.

"He has been a local man, his family is here, and all his ties are here. Doug is going to be sadly missed," he said.

At 8:50 p.m. Friday, law enforcement agencies received a message directing them to locate a suicidal adult male who was last seen in Tipp City, Ohio, about 15 miles north of Dayton, less than an hour earlier.

Police declined to reveal who made the report.

About 10:45 p.m., the Sidney Police Department was notified that Piqua police officers and Shelby County sheriff's depu-ties were following Chief Kaiser's personal vehicle, a Dodge Durango, north on Shelby County Road 25A.

A mourner pays respects at a memorial to Holland police chief Doug Kaiser outside the department's headquarters. Chief Kaiser shot himself to death Friday night in Shelby County. A mourner pays respects at a memorial to Holland police chief Doug Kaiser outside the department's headquarters. Chief Kaiser shot himself to death Friday night in Shelby County.
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Chief Kaiser refused to stop and continued into Sidney, the city's police chief, Steve Wearly, said in a statement.

Sidney is about 110 miles south of Toledo and about 25 miles north of Tipp City.

A Shelby County deputy deployed spikes on the road and disabled Chief Kaiser's front left tire, after which the vehicle traveled about seven blocks before stopping.

"Almost immediately, officers observed the driver, while still seated in the vehicle, shoot himself in the head with a handgun," the Sidney chief said in his statement.

Mr. Barlos said the chief gave no indication of being suicidal and, in fact, had been working on long-term projects, including retrofitting the former village fire station into a police station.

"He always said, 'Five more years and I can retire,' and you don't make those statements if you are not thinking that far ahead," Mr. Barlos said.

Holland village Councilman Dale Prentice said the chief was a dedicated police officer.

"I think he did his job and did his job pretty well," Mr. Prentice said. "The village as a whole and the police department will obviously pull together and we will miss Doug Kaiser because he has been here a long time, and you don't recover quickly from that."

Mayor Yunker appointed Sgt. Bob Reed as the department's acting chief.

Chief Kaiser was hired as a part-time police officer in 1982 while still working full time for the village street department. He became a full-time police officer in 1985 and was promoted to chief four years later.

The department had eight full-time officers, including the chief.

Mayor Yunker said Chief Kaiser was married with four children.

Springfield Local Schools Superintendent Cynthia Beekley said she was shocked by news of the chief's suicide.

"He was just an invaluable resource for us," Ms. Beekley said. "Any time you would call him, he was there no matter what you needed, and he provided wonderful leadership to the department and to the school leadership as well."

Ray Brown, as president of the Orchard Villa Homeowners Association in the village, had regular conversations with the chief and always found him willing to help with traffic and other issues in the neighborhood.

"To the public, he was a very kind and concerned person. If you called him with a problem, he got right on it," said Mr. Brown, a retired Lucas County sheriff's sergeant. "It was a shock, you know," Mr. Brown said.

"I thought he was very likeable. He always cared about things and listened to people. I would never have thought he had any trouble at all. Nothing," he said.

The Neville Funeral Home, 7438 Airport Hwy., Springfield Township, is handling arrangements. Funeral services have not been scheduled.

Staff writer Mark Zaborney contributed to this report.

Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171.



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