EletiofeGary Lewis confirmed as Bexley police chief, director of...

Gary Lewis confirmed as Bexley police chief, director of special projects


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Gary Lewis, Bexley police chief

Gary Lewis, Bexley police chief

In a 6-0 vote on Aug. 9, Bexley City Council confirmed the appointment of Gary Lewis as the city’s new police chief − the first African-American to hold the position, city officials said.

Lewis’ employment contract with Bexley begins Sept. 1 and runs through Aug. 31, 2025, at an annual salary of $175,000. In comparison, the 2021 salary for chief Larry Rinehart, who retired in January 2022 after 14 years, was $147,545. Neither salary figure includes benefits.

The position includes higher compensation because it comes with an additional title − director of special projects − and new responsibilities, Mayor Ben Kessler said.

“The employee that we’re hiring has been professionally doing a lot more than just being a chief of police in the past couple of engagements that he served in,” Kessler said. “We wanted to capture that (experience) and to capture that potential.”

Lewis’ job description outlines special projects such as preparing, reviewing and updating long-range and strategic plans and helping to direct and oversee the city’s justice, equity, diversity and inclusion practices, policies, programs and initiatives.

Lewis is currently the University of Louisville’s chief of police. Before taking that job in August 2018, Lewis served as Cleveland State University’s chief of police and as a lieutenant commander with the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP). After retiring after 21 years with OSHP, Lewis served as the senior director of media relations for Ohio State University.

Lewis earned a bachelor’s degree in public safety management from Franklin University and a master’s degree in criminal justice and law enforcement administration from Michigan State University. He also completed Harvard Kennedy School’s Executive Leadership program, with a focus on crisis leadership in higher education.

Bexley posted the chief position in April and selected Lewis from among 21 applicants. To assist in the search for a new chief, the city hired executive search firm Ralph Anderson and Associates, based in Rocklin, California, and Gayle Saunders, a Columbus-based communications consultant. The city also conducted a series of public forums and surveys, culminating in a July 6 town-hall meeting at Bexley High School’s auditorium.

At the that meeting, Lewis answered questions about safety and police/community relations with the three other finalists: Ken Gough, a 24-year Bexley Police Department veteran who has served as interim chief since Rinehart retired; Victor McDowell, deputy chief of the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority’s police department; and Wendy Stiver, former Dayton Police Department chief of staff who is currently a consultant with various organizations on police reform.

Public input was essential in selecting a new chief, said council member Monique Lampke, who served on the interview committee.

“I think one of the things that mattered most to me was being able to observe very qualified candidates in one-on-one interviews, small group interviews, hypothetical scenarios, large groups and then our public forum and our community forum,” Lampke said. “I think having taken these candidates through those paces really gave them a flavor of what Bexley is, what Bexley expects of them.”

Vernon Road resident Rachel Laing, an attorney and another member of the interview committee, said she’s heard from community members that they felt included in the process of selecting the chief.

“It feels like we really afforded the city due process, notice and an opportunity to be heard,” Laing said. “That’s what they had been asking for, and I feel like they really got it.”

Kessler said the interview committee also included council President Troy Markham and Sam Marcellino, chair of council’s safety committee; Tiffany Hunt, chair of the city’s Citizen Review Board, which reviews citizen complaints about city employees; Lee Nathans of the Bexley Citizens Police Academy and Alumni Association; John Offenberg, who chaired the city’s 2019-20 Charter Review Commission; and members of the city’s Civil Service Commission.

Lewis was introduced as the new police chief on July 21 at Bexley City Hall, just prior to a special meeting in which council discussed the first reading of legislation dealing with his appointment. The Aug. 9 vote came during the second reading of that legislation, after members agreed to suspend the requirement for three readings.

Markham said council suspended the third reading to give Lewis sufficient time to make the transition from his current job, relocate to Bexley and officially assume the role of police chief by Sept. 1.

[email protected]


This article originally appeared on ThisWeek: Gary Lewis confirmed as Bexley police chief, director of special projects

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