Reynoldsburg Police Department
New chief will focus on 'sense of community'
James O'Neill was scheduled to be sworn in Sept. 11 as Reynoldsburg's new police chief, bringing more than 20 years of experience as a police officer and commander to the job.
Mayor Brad McCloud announced on Sept. 7 that O'Neill had accepted the position.
O'Neill, 51, first began working for the city of Reynoldsburg in 1992 as a patrol officer.
He rose through the ranks, becoming a patrol sergeant and lieutenant, taking on leadership roles that included patrol supervisor, operations bureau commander, administrative bureau commander, then acting police chief.
O'Neill has been serving as acting police chief since April, after Interim Chief Scott McKinley retired to accept a position with the U.S. Coast Guard.
McKinley succeeded former Chief David Suciu, who retired amid a departmental affairs investigation into his conduct and that of a Reynoldsburg officer regarding a December 2011 incident involving a woman arrested by Pickerington police for carrying an unauthorized weapon in a motor vehicle.
In his letter of interest to the city, O'Neill wrote "I feel that the institutional knowledge and insight I have gained in my 20 years of service to the city make me uniquely qualified among the candidates for this position."
O'Neill said working as acting chief and working closely with Reynoldsburg's previous police chiefs "gave me a pretty good idea of the day-to-day work of a police chief."
"I think, by and large, our police officers are connected well with the community," he said. "Quite a few live in town or close to town in Pickerington or Gahanna, so I think there is a sense of community.
"Our officers' concerns about what goes on in the city does not end when they are done for the day," he said.
O'Neill said the city of Reynoldsburg has done a good job "bringing a sense of community back to town."
"By relocating the Tomato Festival to Huber Park and giving the Fourth of July fireworks celebration a better hometown feel, I think we all feel a better sense of community," he said. "Having our officers take on that mindset of a close community is something I'm hoping to help instill as police chief."
As acting chief, O'Neill supervised 68 employees and had oversight of all financial activities for the department, including budget, purchasing and payroll; supervised internal disciplinary investigations and served as the primary liaison between the police department and other city departments.
He has also been the department's primary public information officer, according to his resume.
O'Neill also reorganized the duties of first-line supervisors to account for a 66-percent reduction in command staff, he wrote in his resume.
O'Neill lives in Pickerington with his wife and has two grown children.
Other candidates for the job included: Dublin Police Lt. John DeJarnette; Marysville Assistant Police Chief Glenn Nicol; Acting Hilliard Police Chief Lt. David Plesich; Columbus Police Lt. Craig Stone; Newark Police Capt. Craig Riley; and Chief Daniel Meloy of the Colerain Police Department, near Cincinnati.