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New Dayton Police Chief Wants to Make "Good" Department Great

Just one day after presiding over his first city council meeting, Dayton Mayor Virgil Boruske fired Police Chief Scott O’Brien, in a move that has surprised some local officials.
 
It wasn’t long — less than a day, in fact — before Boruske had O’Brien’s successor in place.
 
The new mayor announced Thursday that Campbell County Police Sgt. David Halfhill will take O’Brien’s place.
 
The speed with which Boruske both decided to fire O’Brien and then hire Halfhill have sparked rumors within social and news media networks of political motivations behind the decision.
 
Rumors and speculation aside, Boruske did not keep his intentions of bringing change to the police department a secret on the campaign trail this fall.
 
Both Boruske and Halfhill deny any political motivations in the decision, though, instead pointing to changes needed in police patrolling and safety within the city.
 
“I want better coverage on the streets,” Boruske told The River City News. “It’s a shift issue. There was too much patrolling during the day, and not enough at night.”
 
He believes Halfhill is the guy to initiate those changes. “This guy will be able to take over and run with it,” he said.
 
For the incoming chief, he said he has been charged with taking what he called a “good” department, and making it “great."
 
When asked what sorts of changes he plans to implement in the department, Halfhill said, “Scott (O’Brien) did a good job, but there were some things not being addressed. We’re going to be more visible in the community, and we’re going to be more proactive.”
 
Halfhill echoed Boruske’s concerns over shift management. A Dayton resident and former Dayton cop himself, he believes the number of officers on duty at a given time in the city is often not enough to handle the need for police response. “These officers have been limited due to the position they're in,” he said. “They’re on by themselves."
 
“I see drug deals going on in people’s front yards,” he said. “That’s unacceptable."
 
Anecdotal reports on social media of O’Brien and his officers’ presence throughout the city, though, vary widely, from stories of the Chief himself responding personally to people’s homes to others claiming to have been referred to Bellevue Police when calling to report an issue.
 
Beyond concerns over shift management, though, O’Brien’s success with bringing new hi-tech approaches to law enforcement cannot be ignored. As O’Brien’s successor, Halfhill will also be handed a Homeland Security grant, procured by O’Brien and Bellevue Police Chief Wayne Turner, to install cameras throughout both Dayton and Bellevue. Just one day before his firing, O’Brien had announced to City Council a new crime­reporting mobile app coming to the city. Dayton will be the third city to implement the app.
 
When asked if he would continue this approach, Halfhill said, “It’s a good program Scott was able to get for Bellevue and Dayton. When you have these cameras, sometimes you don’t need eye­witnesses like you used to. With the app, a cop can be camped somewhere else, monitoring cameras across the city. It’s a good thing."
 
“Overall, it is a good department,” Halfhill emphasized to River City News. “But I can make it a better department. I can make it a great department.” 
 
Halfhill also pointed to his five years of experience working on the Dayton Police force, saying he’s happy to be coming back home to Dayton. “People would always keep asking me, ‘When are you coming back, when are you coming back?’ If I hadn’t left, I very well might have been chief already."
 
Halfhill has given Campbell County Police his two weeks notice, and will then begin as Dayton Chief.
 
Written by Pat LaFleur, RCN contributor