Embattled Cridersville police chief to announce retirement


By J Swygart - jswygart@limanews.com



CRIDERSVILLE — Veteran Cridersville Police Chief John Drake has informally announced plans to retire, according to Village Mayor Rick Walls, with a more definitive date for his departure expected to be announced at Monday’s village council meeting.

The official minutes from council’s January meeting make reference to Drake’s pending retirement, and Mayor Rick Walls confirmed the village will begin its search for a new police chief in the near future. Walls said Friday that Drake will leave his position “late this month or early next month” after 28 years of service to the village.

The mayor said he plans to sit down with Drake on Monday afternoon, prior to the council meeting, to discuss the timeline for the chief’s departure.

“We will probably start to advertise for a new chief after Monday’s council meeting,” Walls said.

The mayor said there are two current members of the village police force who have the necessary qualifications to replace Drake.

Shrouded in controversy

Drake has been Cridersville police chief since 1996, but the past eight months of that tenure have been marked by controversy. Drake was placed on paid administrative on Aug. 2 of last year following what Auglaize County Sheriff Al Solomon said at the time were reports alleging “misconduct of a public official” in Cridersville.

After being on paid administrative leave for several months — with Lt. Brian Creech serving as temporary chief of police — Walls brought Drake back in an administrative position.

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation was called in to oversee the investigation into allegations due to the potential conflict of interest that could arise if Auglaize County authorities conducted the probe. Drake has worked in concert with the sheriff’s office on several occasions in the past, Solomon said.

Jill Del Greco, a former public information officer with BCI, confirmed in early August that a search warrant was executed at the Cridersville Police Department office.The agency’s investigation was completed by October and information was turned over to a special prosecutor to determine if charges will be filed against Drake or whether the case will be taken before a local grand jury.

Steven Irwin, a spokesman for the Ohio Attorney General’s office, on Friday afternoon said the state’s case remains open and active.

After being on paid administrative leave for several months — with Lt. Brian Creech serving as temporary chief of police in Cridersville — Drake was brought back in late October or early November by the mayor to serve in an administrative position in the department.

A spokeswoman at the village police department said Drake was out of the office Friday and was unavailable for comment.

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By J Swygart

jswygart@limanews.com

Reach J Swygart at 567-242-0464.

Reach J Swygart at 567-242-0464.

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