GREENFIELD — From brown to blue.
Jeff Rasche, a longtime member of the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department, gratefully accepted a post that will bring about a change of uniform when he was appointed Thursday to lead the Greenfield Police Department.
The new police chief, 50, has served the county in the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department for more than three decades, most recently leading the department’s investigations unit.
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Now, he’ll oversee the staff of 42 officers that makes up the city’s force.
Thursday, Greenfield Mayor Chuck Fewell gathered the police department’s officers and city officials together to formally announce the department’s new leader.
Rasche spoke to his new staff briefly, telling the Greenfield officers how pleased he was to now count himself among them and how eager he was to get started. Afterward, he shook hands with nearly every person in the room, smiling brightly and thanking them for the strong show of support.
Rasche’s official start date at the police department is still being finalized, though he is expected to move into the chief’s office within the first two weeks of the new year, officials said. The Greenfield Board of Public Works and Safety must give final approval of Rasche’s hiring; the board is expected to vote on the matter early next month.
Rasche’s appointment to the police department’s top job comes four months after former Chief John Jester announced his plans to retire at the end of the year following an eight-year stint in office.
Jester announced plans to retire in August after having accepted a security management position with Community Health Network. A panel of community members appointed by Fewell interviewed 10 candidates earlier this month for his replacement, narrowing down the field before Fewell made a final selection this week.
And as he looks to Rasche, whose career as a police officer began 32 years ago, he is pleased with his choice.
Rasche first joined the sheriff’s department as an emergency dispatcher in 1984 before becoming a full-time deputy in 1988. He worked as a detective from 1990 to 1996 before briefly stepping away from law enforcement to pursue another career; he returned in 2000 and has remained a fixture in the department since, rising through its ranks.
Rasche was promoted to the rank of sergeant in 2003 and lieutenant in 2010. He’s spent the majority of his career in the sheriff’s department’s investigations division.
In 2014, Rasche spent 10 weeks training with officers from around the world at the elite FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia, which only 1 percent of law enforcement officers, worldwide, are invited to attend, according to the FBI. There, Rasche completed courses designed to make police officers better investigators and community leaders.
Four years ago, Sheriff Mike Shepherd promoted Rasche to the rank of captain, and Rasche stepped up to lead the sheriff’s department team of five detectives. It was that position that Rasche said has taught him the most.
Rasche said he’s tried throughout his career to surround himself with members of law enforcement who had a meaningful and lasting impact on the communities they served. He looked to the examples of those men and women as a lesson in how to be a good leader and positive mentor.
Now, he hopes to provide that guidance to those he has set out to lead, especially the young officers on Greenfield’s force.
“I want to see all of them be successful,” Rasche said. “The biggest thing I learned early in my career is that you don’t have to have a title to be a leader; I think that’s very important, and that’s going to be a big message around here.”
Fewell said his leadership style parallels Rasche’s, and it was that commonality that helped him finalize a decision among several qualified officers whose applications rose to the top of the pile.
Fewell said he wanted a police chief who would continue to develop a positive relationship with community, who had strong leadership traits and the stamina to keep up with the daily rigors of police work.
Rasche possessed all those qualities and more, Fewell said.
As Rasche settles into his new role, the transition will spark change in the department he leaves behind as well.
Rasche’s job as commander of the sheriff’s department’s investigations unit is an appointed position, and Shepherd said he’ll take the next week to consider which of his officers is best to move into the rank.
But Shepherd said he was excited Rasche had earned such a prominent position within the city, and he’s eager to see what the future holds.
The sheriff’s department and the city police department already have a strong working relationship, he said; but having Rasche’s familiar face within the police department’s leadership will serve to bolster those ties.
“Its our loss but the city’s gain,” Shepherd said. “I’m very happy for Jeff.”
Newly appointed Greenfield Police Chief Jeff Rasche has more than 30 years of experience in local law enforcement. Here are some highlights of his career:
1984 – Joined the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department as a 911 dispatcher
1988 – Accepted a position as a full-time sheriff’s deputy
1990 – Joined the sheriff’s department’s investigations unit as a detective
2013 – Appointed to lead the investigations unit, promoted to rank of captain
2014 – Attended elite FBI National Academy
2016 – Appointed to Greenfield Police Chief