NEW BREMEN — New Bremen Police Chief Doug Harrod will retire this year, after spending a career in law enforcement, but also in the community. Friends gathered with him to celebrate retirement Wednesday afternoon at the Lockkeeper’s House.
When Harrod began in law enforcement, inspired by his father, he walked into the Wapakoneta Police Department on his 21st birthday for his first day of work.
“It was something I always wanted to do,” he said.
They handed him a gun, 18 rounds of ammunition, set him up with a car and sent him out on patrol, where he stayed eight years until the chief position opened.
“They gave me a car and said, ‘Don’t get into trouble,’” Harrod said. “It’s so much different today. The training, what you have to deal with.”
The crime he sees has changed — where there used to be stolen property, now identity theft and computer crimes have changed how money is taken, who the perpetrators are, and how crimes are investigated.
Colleagues from other branches of law enforcement came to the casual party.
“Doug brought me back here, hired me,” Deputy James Holtzapple said. “I owe him quite a bit.”
Auglaize County Sheriff Al Solomon said no matter the situation, Harrod was known for being calm.
“Because of his experience, he had seen a lot, dealt with a lot,” Solomon said.
Part of being an officer is that Harrod has seen people at some of the most pivotal moments of their lives. He might meet a child in a safety program, pull him over as a teen for his first traffic ticket, defend him from an attacker or arrest him for an offense. In a few cases, Harrod might be the person explaining to someone that a loved one has died.
He listed those as the most challenging days in his career.
Being a fixture in the community has its perks, however. Harrod taught safety programs and especially bike safety at local schools.
“The kids are the best part,” Harrod said. “That means more to me than anything. It’s very important because those kids are future citizens. It teaches them to respect the law. It makes it easier when they grow up.”
Occasionally Harrod has even been part of their growing up. He remembers one time he was dispatched to a house for a complaint. He went inside to find a young man in a tuxedo and his mother.
“It was prom night,” Harrod said. “The kid was ready to go to prom, but his father wasn’t around. Mom had no idea how to tie a tie. I tied it.”
Harrod is unsure when exactly he will leave the New Bremen Police Department. He told councilors he would stay until they hired a replacement.