A retired Dayton Police Department detective, twice commended for arresting bank robbers, is in the Guernsey County jail charged with robbing a Cambridge bank that triggered the evacation of several downtown blocks.
David M. Hirst, 48, was charged Friday with one count of aggravated robbery, according to Guernsey County Prosecutor Daniel Padden. Padden said more charges are possible as police are continuing their investigation.
According to police, Hirst entered the U.S. Bank, adjacent to the county courthouse, around 12:45 p.m. Thursday. He handed a teller a note demanding cash, then fled out the back door with the money. Hirst was confronted by a Cambridge officer who was responding to a call from the bank. Hirst — armed with loaded .40-caliber Glock and .380-caliber Ruger handguns — was taken into custody without incident. He told officers he had an explosive device.
The area was evacuated for several hours while the Columbus bomb squad assessed the device. The bomb squad destroyed the device, which was determined to be a fake, according to the FBI, which is assisting local authorities.
Dayton police described the former fraud detective, who retired Nov. 11, 2011 after 25 years, as a hard-working and thorough officer.
“I can’t explain it. This is totally out of character, 180-degree change,” Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl said Friday morning. “There is just nothing there to suggest he would do anything like that.”
Lt. Randy Beane, president of the local Fraternal Order of Police said: “It is a shock to all of us….. He is a quiet, steady guy who came to work and did his job.”
Following his arrest Thursday, FBI searched Hirst’s Dayton home in the 1000 blocks of Phillips Avenue, FBI agent Eric Thomas of the Dayton office said. The Dayton bomb squad entered the house first, looking for explosives. None were found. Once the house was cleared, FBI agents gathered evidence. Dayton Assistant Police Chief Bob Chabali said a weapon was recovered from the house but declined to comment further.
Both the FBI in Dayton and Columbus declined further comment.
Hirst is a 1982 graduate of Trotwood-Madison High School and earned an associate degree from Sinclair Community College.
Hirst is scheduled for arraignment on Nov. 9 in Cambridge Municipal Court.
“We’re doing some digging to be sure there isn’t anything in his record that we might have missed,” Chief Biehl said.
“I don’t have any answers,” Biehl said. “If nothing else, the story may be about the complexities of human behavior.”
During his time on the police force, Hirst received nine written commendations, including one in 2001 for solving a $21,000 theft from two local banks by an employee, according to his personnel file obtained by the Dayton Daily News under the state public records law.
In 1998, he was commended for arresting a bank robber within minutes of the crime.
The personnel file held no written disciplinary actions when Hirst retired. However, officers can have their files expunged of suspensions if they are not suspended a second time during a period of years depending on how many days they were suspended.
Hirst also worked in grand theft auto. In 2003 he was named co-Law Enforcement Officer of the Year by the Ohio Auto Theft Association after he and his partner arrested 10 members of a auto theft ring, recovering over 186 vehicles worth more than $400,000.
Another commendation cited Hirst’s role in the arrest of a “dangerous sexual predator” who attempted to abduct a 13-year-old girl at knifepoint.
A year before his retirement, Hirst’s annual salary was $63,732. The year he retired, Hirst earned $72,908, including payouts for unused benefits.
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