“I’m local through and through,” said the village of Ashley’s new Police Chief Scott Santos, who was appointed to the position March 5.
“I think he’s going to make some changes for the better,” said Mayor Jim Nelson. “We don’t want to be a speed trap or anything like that. We just want to make sure we have the coverage.”
Since the first of the year, Santos has been filling in as the acting police chief after Doug Patrick decided to retire from the position at the end of 2018.
According to village officials, Patrick started as a part-time officer on the village force in 1992. Two years later in 1994, he was hired full-time. Patrick’s tenure as police chief began in 1998.
Santos said his law enforcement career started as a part-time officer with the police department, much like Patrick.
“I started working for Ashley in March of 2000,” Santos said. “I was here for three years, earned the rank of corporal, and then I went to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).”
Within ODNR, Santos worked as a park and staff officer.
“I then came back to Ashley part-time in May of last year, helping with the training of part-time officers,” he said. “I moved into full-time with the chief’s spot looming. Then with Doug’s retirement, I took over as the acting chief in January and was confirmed as chief this March.”
Santos said he received a commission at 22 years of age with most of his professional career being in law enforcement.
A native of Delaware, Santos was born at Grady Hospital, graduated from Delaware Hayes High School, and still lives in Delaware today. He said the drive from Delaware to Ashley every day allows him a chance to focus on the day ahead and a chance to de-stress on the drive back home at the end of his day.
However, before moving into law enforcement, Santos had other plans after high school.
“I actually went to Ohio Wesleyan University (OWU) for music education,” he said. “I thought that I wanted to be a high school band director, but after the Columbine tragedy, it kind of led me to law enforcement.”
In 1997, Santos said he left OWU as a student to work in private security, and he later returned to OWU to work as a public safety officer. It was at that point Santos entered the police academy at the Delaware Area Career Center.
Santos said while Ashley is a pretty quiet community, there are things that happen there just as they do in any town, just not as often.
“We have a lot of community engagement,” he said. “We walk through the school, around downtown, the different neighborhoods, the trailer park, and the apartment complexes. We’re a lot more engaged with some of the things that are not traditionally law enforce things.”
Santos said he had a parent ask him to talk to their child about getting up for school in the morning, but on the other side, he said they make traffic stops and deal with felony warrants as well.
“We arrested a person for kidnapping last year,” he said. “He held his girlfriend hostage in her house.”
Santos said his department still makes arrest along with all the dangers that come with a traditional law enforcement position, but since Ashley is a small community, everybody knows the officers. He said the people wave when they drive by and many still call him by his first name instead of his title.
“It’s kind of a first-name basis here,” he said. “To be honest, I usually introduce myself as Scott. You don’t have that formality as much with the community.”
However, Santos said that all changes if someone is pulled over for a traffic violation.
“They use your title,” he said. “As for the community, they are very pro-police. They want to see us out and about here.”
Santos said he takes a holistic approach to law enforcement in Ashley.
“I believe firmly if we’re involved with the community and the community can feel they trust us to come to us with their problems, we’re working together to reduce and prevent crime,” he said. “There is more of a chance to get to know the people in a small community and that makes it easier to deal with things when they happen, most of the time.”
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.