Friday, February 08, 2002

Chief quits after 1 day on the job

Hildebrant returning to Turfway

By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        DAYTON, Ky. — After only one day on the job, Police Chief Fred Hildebrant abruptly resigned Thursday morning.

        The reappointment of Mr. Hildebrant — who retired as Dayton's police chief in late 1999 — was seen as a move to bring together a department left in disarray after several resignations and allegations of council meddling in police business.

        “The newly appointed Police Chief Fred Hildebrant ... has had second thoughts about returning to his old job,” said Mayor Ronald “Ron” Gunning.

        “As of this date, he has resigned and is returning to his job as security supervisor at Turfway Park. He felt the stress and demands of the job is more than he wanted to accept at the present time.”

        Mr. Hildebrant, who was not at work Thursday, could not be reached for comment.

        A veteran law enforcement official in Northern Kentucky, Mr. Hildebrant worked for Edgewood Police for a little more than 17 years. He took the helm of Dayton Police for the first time in September 1997 and retired two years later, citing bad health.

        Most recently, he was security supervisor for Turfway Park.

        “I'm saddened with the departure,” said Councilman Don Seifert. “I support Mr. Hildebrant. I think he was the best chief Dayton has ever had.”

        He said Mr. Hildebrant is remembered as a proactive chief who launched the city's DARE program, youth Explorers program and bike patrol.

        While under his direction, the department earned a statewide award for its aggressive enforcement of DUI laws.

        The reappointment wasn't without criticism. The announcement of his hiring drew protests from two people Tuesday night, which caused the mayor to bar further public comment on the issue during the City Council meeting.

        “I wasn't for him to begin with,” said Councilman Dennis Ashford. “So I'm not too upset about his resignation.”

        He said he was concerned Mr. Hildebrant would be unable to fulfill his duties as chief due to a reported chronic health problem, the same medical condition that led to his retirement in 1999.

        “I like to get my money's worth,” Mr. Ashford said. “If you are going to hire someone for $42,000, you should hire a healthy individual. Being police chief is a dangerous job. You need to be physically fit.”

        Mr. Gunning said Mr. Hildebrant left in 1999 for medical reasons, but that the condition had successfully been treated. He declined to elaborate.

        “(Mr. Hildebrant) felt the controversy about his appointment by certain council members at Tuesday's meeting was not in the best interests of the city and himself,” Mr. Gunning said.

        “We are very sorry to see him go, but we do respect and understand his decision.”


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