Dozens of citizens filled the gym at the Bryan Center in Yellow Springs to voice their displeasure with the police action at the New Year’s Eve event. Jan. 3, 2017. TREMAYNE HOGUE / STAFF

Yellow Springs identifies injured officer, looks for new police chief

Officer injured in New Year’s Eve altercation remains on leave.

Yellow Springs is searching for both an interim police chief and a long-term replacement after former chief Dave Hale abruptly announced his resignation Tuesday night, after serving in the position for just two years.

Hale’s resignation comes on the heels of the town’s New Year’s Eve celebration that led to an injured officer, a fired Taser and an upset community.

“I have determined that the New Year’s Eve events have so outraged numerous citizens of Yellow Springs—many of whom I know to be level headed and supporters of the police—that I believe the best way to heal the rift is for me to resign from my position, effective immediately,” Hale said in a written statement.

Yellow Springs Village Manager Patti Bates read the statement to citizens at a meeting Monday night. Hale was not present and could not be reached for further comment.

In preparation for the New Year’s Eve event, YSPD Sgt. Joshuah Knapp sent an email Thursday, Dec. 29, telling officers scheduled to work that, “I leave it up to you on when you want to clear the streets, but I suggest that it does not go past 12:45 a.m. or so.”

RELATED: Arrest made after Yellow Springs NYE event

As revelers were wrapping up the village’s annual New Year’s Eve Ball Drop celebration, police, whom Hale said were on a “routine patrol,” drove through the crowd in an effort to disperse patrons, using their horns and sirens.

One man, 29-year-old David Carlson, approached a police cruiser and according to Hale’s statement, “began leaning into” the cruiser. Carlson was reportedly told several times to move away from the car but did not do so. Dash cam footage shows a man leaning into the car door of a cruiser while the officer inside tried opening it.

The man then ran away while being chased by the officer.

One officer “deployed their Taser unsuccessfully” and Carlson was able to flee again.

Carlson was arrested later that night after officers responded to a possible physical altercation, according to information from Hale on Monday.

R.J. Hawley, the senior officer in charge that night, sustained unknown injuries from Sunday’s events and is on medical leave according to Bates.

Hawley has been unavailable for comment because of his status on medical leave. Bates cited privacy laws when asked about the extent of Hawley’s injuries. She also said they are still working to figure out what caused the injuries.

Hale joined the police department in Oct. 2014, replacing police chief Anthony Pettiford who resigned from his position in due to a shoulder injury he sustained on the job shortly after he was hired. Pettiford had served in the role for almost two years. Hale was chosen as interim chief , before being selected to permanently fill the position in January 2015.

Under Hale’s tenure, Sgt. Naomi Penrod stood trial after being charged with assault, interfering with civil rights and disorderly conduct for taking a camera from a village resident who was filming police activity outside of her home Nov. 5, 2014. She remains with the department.

Bates said she’s currently working on finding an interim chief using several methods, including reaching out to the Ohio Chiefs of Police Association. The group keeps a list of retired police chiefs who are willing to work on an interim basis.

“I’m certainly happy to listen to any of the villagers and if any of them some thoughts on who could become interim chief for us, I’m certainly willing to take those suggestions,” Bates said.

Village president Karen Wintrow said whomever Bates finds for either position, will have to “understand the values of the community.”

“Moving forward, council is committed to improving the service we’re providing via our safety forces and working with the community to do that,” Wintrow said.

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