Earlier this year it was announced that Sunbury Police Chief Pat Bennett would retire in February. Sunbury Village Council members contracted with the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police for services in hiring Bennett’s replacement.
The OACP submitted a list of 16 applicants vetted for village consideration. Six applicants made a short list, four were interviewed, three were interviewed extensively. Of the two finalists, one candidate, Sergeant Norman Ream of the Heath Police Department, was publicly interviewed immediately preceding a recent Sunbury Village Council meeting.
Sunbury mayor Tommy Hatfield said Ream was the successful candidate.
Hatfield said there are procedural steps that need to be taken before Sunbury Village Council members officially approve Ream as Bennett’s replacement during the Jan. 18 village council meeting.
During last Wednesday’s interview Ream, who has 29 years combined military and civilian law enforcement experience, said he was attracted to the Sunbury chief’s position because of challenges of growth the village is facing.
“Coming from a smaller agency that has grown a lot the last 24 years, diverse growth, I’ve seen the effects of growth on a community,” Ream said. “When I was started with Heath 24 years ago we had 4,000 calls a year. Now we’re having 17,000 and 18,000 calls a year. Sunbury is in a prime position to grow. I’ve been there and seen that.”
Ream, who still rides patrol and serves as a community relations officer, said a community-policing concept is important for a small community.
“Every community is different,” Ream said. “Every community has its own culture. Community-based policing provides an opportunity to get information out to the community and information back. If you come from a larger police department it’s hard to understand that.”
Ream said Sunbury has similar demographics to what he’s familiar with in Heath.
“You have a small-town with a friendly atmosphere, and I know you want to keep that culture,” Ream said. “But you’re going to grow; there are a lot of opportunities for a community-oriented police department.
“Traditionally, police officers are a closed group,” Ream said. “We have to break out of that. We have to go out into the community and humanize the police department. We have to get back to where people have a more positive view of police.”
In addition to public and military law enforcement training, Ream has a Criminal Justice degree from Central Ohio Technical College, a Bachelor of Business Administration from Mount Vernon Nazarene University, and MBA from Tiffin University, and is completing coursework for a PhD in Criminal Justice.
Reporter Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093.