BY KRISTI FISH | MIRROR REPORTER — Retired Maumee Police Chief Robert Zink passed away on October 6 at home, surrounded by his family. He was 68.
The former chief was born and raised in Northwest Ohio, dedicating much of his life to the community.
He served the Maumee community through the Maumee Police Division for 36 years before his retirement in 2013.
In those years, he made significant advancements for the department under the motto “commitment to excellence.”
“He believed his officers should be held to high standards and at the same time was aways supportive of those officers, making sure they were properly trained and supplied with state-of-the-art equipment to properly do their job,” said Maumee Mayor Rich Carr.
In order for the officers to commit to excellence, Zink was instrumental in obtaining resources, like a new space, for officers to work from.
According to current Maumee Police Chief Josh Sprow, Zink worked with the city to design and build the current police building, a 50,000-square-foot building located at 109 E. Dudley St.
“The old police department was 14,000 square feet and had many shared spaces, including a shared locker room for men and women,” Sprow said.
Zink also prioritized obtaining additional education and training for both himself and his officers, in order for them to do their job more effectively.
“He was committed to developing leadership training for himself as well as the other command officers in the department. He inspired me to pursue the same training philosophy in my own career development,” said former Maumee Police Chief and current Maumee City Council president Jim MacDonald.
Zink also advocated for community-oriented policing from the officers, MacDonald said, emphasizing the importance of engaging and connecting with residents.
“He supported the DARE program and school resource officers in the Maumee schools because he knew the importance of connecting with our youth,” added former Maumee Police Chief Dave Tullis.
Zink was chief from 2001 to 2013 and prior to his retirement, he worked with the city to establish a plan for transition for all future chiefs, setting a precedent for the three who have come after him.
The department encourages officers to obtain more advanced national training to better prepare themselves for the possible position of chief of police.
“Chiefs MacDonald, Tullis and Sprow have all continued and added to this succession program and have likewise been excellent chiefs who have added to making our police division being so highly respected and involved in our community,” Carr said. “They have all been excellent chiefs and Chief Zink was a very important influence on each of those chiefs who succeeded him.”
Under Zink’s leadership, the training facility on Mingo Drive was built. He also increased the number of sworn police officers from 41 to 44, to accommodate The Shops at Fallen Timbers.
“Bob was instrumental in developing, organizing, and activating our Special Response Team (SRU). The SRU team responds to our most dangerous situation that our officers face. They serve search and arrest warrants on homes where there are weapons and possible hostage situations. There were many situations as a road supervisor that I was grateful that I could activate SRU to bring a situation to the safest conclusion as possible,” Tullis added. “He developed the protocol, determined the weapons needs, and wrote the policy for when the SRU should be activated.”
Zink, however, was more than a chief during his time with the Maumee Division of Police.
He was a training sergeant and detective sergeant, a field training officer, a lieutenant and more during his 36 years with the division.
In 1982, he was named Officer of the Year.
“He left the department with improvements and policies that still stand today,” Tullis said.
In addition to his time with the department, Zink became the safety and security manager at St. Luke’s before retiring from there in 2021.
His commitment to excellence can also be seen in the education he continued to receive throughout his lifetime, having sought additional education and training from The University of Toledo, Lourdes University, University of Virginia School of Continuing and Professional Studies, the FBI National Academy and more.
Zink was also a husband, father, grandfather, son, brother and uncle.
He was also considered family to many of the people he met through law enforcement.
“Chief Bob Zink was a friend, mentor and a brother in our profession,” MacDonald said. “He was well-known in the law enforcement community in Northwest Ohio.”
His impact on the community can be seen in the outpouring of comments the Maumee Police Division has received since his passing.
“Maumee is a better community because of Bob,” Carr said.
Family and friends are invited to pay their respects on Friday, October 20 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. at Maison-Dardenne-Walker Funeral Home at 501 Conant St. in Maumee.
Donations can be made to the ALS Association of Northern Ohio at 6133 Rockside Rd., Ste. 301, Independence, OH 44131.