Monday, May 15, 2000

Norwood police chief had great teacher: His dad

        His office sits in a converted garage. The roof leaks. The furniture is mismatched hand-me-downs. Smokers take butt breaks outside his door.

        But Bill Schlie couldn't be happier.

        He's honoring his father's memory. He's wearing the gold chief of police badge for the city of Norwood.

        The badge he wears, the job he holds in the city he loves show how positive things can happen when a parent sets a good example.

        The shiny shield looks very familiar to Chief Schlie. It's just like the badge his dad wore when he was Nor wood's chief.

        Bill Schlie brings to Norwood's top cop spot an understanding of his hometown and a clear picture of how to be a good chief. This knowledge has been passed down from father to son.

        “If I'm 60 percent of the chief my dad was, ” he told me, “I'm going to do a good job.

        “He knew Norwood. He loved the people. He made me what I am today.”

Like father, like son
        Harry Schlie served as Norwood's chief from 1969 until his death in 1974.

        His son is settling into his third week as chief. But he's hardly a newcomer to Cincinnati's centrally located neighbor or its police department.

        Bill Schlie has lived in Norwood all of his 53 years. He's spent the last 32 on the town's police force, working his way through the ranks from patrolman to lieutenant and now chief.

        He hopes to bring stability to a job whose office was ready to be fitted with a revolving door. He is Nor wood's fourth police chief in less than a year.

        Controversy and retirements contributed to the high turnover rate. Norwood's force of 48 officers wondered almost daily who was in charge.

        “The uncertainty's over,” the chief said.

        “I'm no caretaker. I'm here to stay.”


        He looked across his desk in the small office tucked behind Norwood's City Hall. The former garage stands a half-block from the chief's alma mater, Norwood High School.

        Chief Schlie's gaze left no room for doubt. His eyes are deep and piercing, brown in color and uncompromising in their directness. His father had those same eyes.

        “He didn't have to say a word to his family or his officers,” the chief said. “You could tell by looking in his eyes if he was disappointed.

        “By the same token, you could also look in his eyes and tell how proud he was of you.”

        Harry Schlie would be proud of his family. It's close-knit and populated with policemen.

        Harry's sons, Bill, Chuck, Harry Jr. and Denny, became cops. So did his late son-in-law, Michael Stafford.

        Now, a third generation of the family is on the job. Joshua Dennis Schlie, Bill's son, is a police officer in Butler County.

        “It all revolves from my dad,” Bill Schlie said. “The way he was admired in Norwood. The way he cared about the city and the citizens. The way he understood the responsibilities that come with the job.”

        Chief Schlie recalled speaking with his father about becoming a cop. His

        dad talked with him about the sacred trust of upholding the law and protecting civilians, his fellow officers and himself.

        He told him “to treat the people, the citizens, just as you would want to be treated. Show them respect. Always. It shows you want respect in return.”

        His advice “went down the line to his sons. So, it was our desire to follow in his footsteps.”

        The night Bill Schlie learned he was going to follow his dad's lead, he called his brother, Denny, a retired Norwood police captain.

        After his brother's phone call, Denny Schlie placed a photo of their father on his kitchen table.

        “I'll bet you're proud tonight, dad,” Denny said to the photo.

        “I hope Billy does the same good job that you did.”

        The people of Norwood have nothing to worry about there. They have the good fortune to have Bill Schlie as their police chief.

        He knows what is expected of him. The rules have been passed down from father to son.

        Columnist Cliff Radel can be reached at 768-8379; fax 768-8340.


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