BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — When Mark McDonough interviewed for the job of police chief for the village of Whitehouse in 2012, he set forth a 10-year plan to meet goals for the department – and then move out of the way for the next generation of leaders.
“I believe I have accomplished those goals and now it’s time for me to move on and let others take the agency to the next level,” McDonough said. “I wanted to be the last individual they (Whitehouse) had to hire as police chief from the outside because we had developed true leaders within the organization.”
Last week, McDonough announced that he would be sworn in on Friday, January 20 as chief of police in Sidney, Ohio, a city with a population of 20,000 and 34 officers patrolling 111 miles of streets.
“Sidney Police Department will provide a new canvas for me to take what I’ve learned in my position at Whitehouse and use my gifts and talents to enhance my new department,” McDonough said.
Mayor Don Atkinson, who was on village council in 2012 and recommended hiring McDonough, said that the departing chief did an amazing job during his 10 years of leadership.
“Mark took this department to a totally different level, to where we’ve been recognized statewide,” Atkinson said. “He’s one of the best chiefs in Ohio.”
Last May, McDonough received the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP) Michael J. Kelly Excellence and Innovation in Policing Award, and in June, the department was named the OACP’s Agency of the Month for outstanding community policing.
McDonough has his own list of notable accomplishments that are often unseen by the public but just as vital. When he arrived, the department had no digital records management system or working in-car cameras. In addition, the fleet of cars was older and many firearms were in disrepair or outdated.
“We were able to update our technology and equipment and be a more professional agency,” McDonough said.
The addition of a deputy police chief position was also paramount to how the agency functions, he said. The demands of policing have grown to include Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board and other state requirements for training, policies and procedures. The addition of Deputy Chief Allan Baer has enabled the department to keep up with the ever-increasing demands.
The creation of department committees – including training, equipment, vehicle fleet, recruiting, community affairs, rescue task force and professional development – enables officers to research and recommend how the agency operates.
“It allows each employee a stake in the process, buy-in and transparency in the ways we provide service to the community,” McDonough said.
The most notable accomplishment is the development of staff, he added.
“Through formal training and the department’s career development process, we’ve created a professional agency that many law enforcement agencies look to for guidance. I am most proud of the fact we have created opportunities for our officers to grow both personally and professionally,” he said.
Over the decade, McDonough said he’s been blessed to have some great mentors, including former Mayor Angie Kuhn, Atkinson, village administrator Jordan Daugherty, former Fire Chief Daryl McNutt, current Fire Chief Josh Hartbarger, Public Service Director Steve Pilcher, members of council, the legal team, officers, Anthony Wayne Local Schools leaders and many community members.
“Policing is not completed in a vacuum; it needs the gifts and talents of many members to provide the services our community deems important,” McDonough said.
Leaving Whitehouse will mean missing all those he has worked with over the years, especially those within the police department, McDonough said.
“I am blessed to have been a part of the Whitehouse family. I have made some great friends and lasting memories during my time here,” he said. “There is something special about the Anthony Wayne area and the village.”
With his departure, McDonough said he is confident that the department will continue to be one of the premier law enforcement agencies in Ohio. Baer, who has been with the department for four years, is likely to be named interim police chief.
“He is more than capable to take over the reins at WPD and will be a guiding force in the transition process,” McDonough said.
The police chief’s position is a mayoral appointment that will need to be affirmed with at least four members of council agreeing to the decision. Currently, Whitehouse Village Council is down to five members, following Dennis Recker’s resignation on December 20. Applications are being sought for the open council position and are due by noon on Monday, January 9.