Home Opinion Tom Wetzel applauded upon his retirement as Richmond Heights police chief

Tom Wetzel applauded upon his retirement as Richmond Heights police chief

Tom Wetzel applauded upon his retirement as Richmond Heights police chief


When Tom Wetzel reflects on the highlights of his nearly four decades of working in law enforcement, he likely will recall the last 4 1/2 years as an especially meaningful time.

It’s a period during which Wetzel wrapped up his career as police chief in his hometown of Richmond Heights.

Wetzel retired as Richmond Heights police chief, effective March 7. He began as chief on Oct. 22, 2018.

But Wetzel’s connection to Richmond Heights stretches back much further. He was raised in the city, delivered newspapers there and played on its streets.

He also started as a dispatcher with the Richmond Heights Police Department from 1985 to 1987. Wetzel then worked with the Beachwood Police Department for 31 years, ascending to the rank of lieutenant, before accepting the police chief’s job in Richmond Heights.

“Kinda neat that I did a full circle back to my roots,” Wetzel said. “I developed lifetime friendships with people I grew up with and it was neat to be able to serve this community in this capacity. I used to deliver newspapers on Richmond Road as a kid. I used to play and walk through the Loganberry and Dorchester apartment grounds as a young person and it was really special to conduct foot patrols there as a police chief, which I did regularly.

“I went to kindergarten at our elementary school building,” he added. “I have family who still live in the city, so it was really personal to me to make this a safe community to live and thrive in for our customers, and I worked very hard with our police officers and staff to make that happen.”

For years, the department had been striving to be a gold standard in American policing, and in 2022, Richmond Heights achieved that distinction, Wetzel said.

The department was recognized as a Gold Standard Police Department by Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted.

“That was particularly special to us and affirmed all we had worked so hard to achieve,” Wetzel said. “Also, our Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost recognized us as a model of excellence.”

Wetzel stressed two areas that were important to him were building harmony between the server and the served (police officers and citizens) and youth outreach, where the department worked to develop generational relationships with young people and their families.

“We had tremendous success in both areas and I’m confident we built bridges of trust and long-term relationships with those we served and will continue to build on those important friendships,” Wetzel said. “To have real success in keeping a community safe requires a symbiotic relationship between the server and the served.”

Wetzel said the approach to making Richmond Heights a safe and attractive place to live involved a coordinated effort to be inviting and all-encompassing, and not having a wall up between police and the residents.

“Our agency put a big emphasis on community policing and I tried to weave it into the very fabric of our culture,” he said. “We know we can’t do it alone and need everyone’s help to make Richmond Heights a special place to live.”

Wetzel is proud of where the department is as he steps away and the direction it is headed.

“Richmond Heights has caught ‘lightning in a bottle’ with this police department, and it was a privilege to work with these brave men and women in blue, as well as our dedicated records team,” he said. “A big shout out of gratitude as well to our volunteer auxiliary police officers, who truly make a difference in our community.”

The News-Herald hopes that the city of Richmond Heights will remember Tom Wetzel as being an excellent police chief for the community.

Wetzel’s love for Richmond Heights, the town in which he grew up, is something he expresses openly. He also displayed enthusiasm and dedication in his role as police chief.

For the past 4 1/2 years, Wetzel pursued and achieved worthy goals of strengthening relations between the Police Department and community at large, and connecting with children in Richmond Heights through various outreach programs.

The News-Herald salutes Wetzel for doing an admirable job as Richmond Heights police chief, and wishes him well in retirement.




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