Pat Bennett is now Sunbury Police Chief (Ret.) Pat Bennett.
Bennett’s exit from the position included a luncheon on Feb. 24 with Sunbury Village employees, followed by an afternoon-long open house where members of the general public, fellow law enforcement officers from nearby jurisdictions, and family and friends stopped at Sunbury Town Hall to wish Bennett well in his retirement.
Bennett, a 1987 Big Walnut High School graduate, grew up on Harrison Street and is a life-long Sunbury resident.
In a Thursday, March 1, 2001, edition of The Sunbury News announcing his selection as Chief of the Village of Sunbury Police Department, Bennett said when he was in high school he never had a desire to become a police officer, but he helped train police dogs for the Franklin and Union counties sheriff’s departments.
“I liked training police dogs,” Bennett said in the 2001 article. “When I graduated, I had to make a decision on what I was going to do with my life so I went to the police academy.”
That was in 1990. Bennett graduated from the academy and served part-time with both the Richwood and Sunbury police departments. In August of 1990 Bennett landed a full-time position with the Sunbury PD.
It was 10 years later when former Sunbury Police Chief Gary Hall retired and Bennett became acting chief while the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police completed a search. Following that search and vetting process Bennett was sworn in as Sunbury’s Chief of Police on Feb. 26, 2001.
In presenting a mayoral proclamation to Bennett during last Friday’s employee luncheon, Sunbury Mayor Tommy Hatfield said Bennett’s tenure as police chief had gone by swiftly.
“I can’t believe this day is already here,” Hatfield said. “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with Pat. There’s not a policeman we’re going to hire to replace Pat that has his connection to the community – someone who grew up, who lives here.”
Hatfield said Bennett is the epitome of Andy Griffith in the best sense of the word because of his connection to the people in Sunbury.
“Pat has a heart for the people of this community,” Hatfield said. “He’s known for applying the law fairly while considering the impact of his decisions on the individual. He’s done an outstanding job over the years, both as a police officer and as our chief of police.”
Hatfield noted the bad publicity that police departments have been receiving in national media, but said in large part because of Bennett’s leadership, Sunbury does not have that problem.
“It’s one thing to have a police chief serving our community, its another thing to have a police chief that’s raising his family here,” Hatfield added. “And that speaks volumes.”
In addition to family, friends, and Sunbury employees, visitors at Friday’s open house included Delaware County Sheriff Russ Martin, Delaware County Prosecuting Attorney Carol O’Brian, Johnstown PD Chief Don Corbin, State Representative 68th House District Rick Carfagna, and in town for a visit with his former employer was former Sunbury PD Lt. Tom Daniels, now retired and living out of state.
Bennett is in Arizona this week with his sons PJ and Wyatt, while his wife Maria is at home operating the family-owned business, Longbranch Pizza on Vernon Street. Bennett said when his vacation is over, he will spend several days each week working at the pizza shop.
Reporter Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093.