Brimfield’s Chief Oliver resigns, claims PTSD as root of problem


Brimfield Police Chief and Facebook “internet sensation” David Oliver speaks to Kent State students on Oct. 8, 2013 about his many experiences in the police force. From years of helping on the drug task force, to his more recent ones that revolve around helping the community through his notoriety on Facebook, Oliver has built quite a background for himself prior to the interest buzz. Oliver recently released a book called “No Mopes Allowed”, inspired by the well-known Facebook page.

Katie Nix

The Brimfield Township Board of Trustees accepted the resignation of Police Chief David Oliver at a meeting Friday afternoon and also instated Capt. Chris Adkins as the interim chief.

However, much of the Jan. 16 meeting was spent with township citizens voicing their concerns and comments regarding the chief’s sudden departure from the department, many of which were negatively directed toward the board. 

“It’s evident that something negative happened regarding the Board of Trustees,” township resident Tarus Latacki said. “We have the best police department and information flow in the community and police.”

Latacki said he understood this situation put the board in a hard place but wished that the full two weeks had been taken to talk about Oliver’s future with the township in a calm, cool manner.

The announcement of retirement, according to Oliver’s letter of resignation, came in the midst of a two-week, unpaid suspension for the chief. 

In a Jan. 13 post on the Brimfield Police Department’s Facebook page, Oliver said the reason for the leave of absence was an “administrative policy violation.” 

“I fully accept the punishment and apologize for anyone impacted by my failure to adhere to follow the rules,” Oliver wrote.

Oliver also addressed the claims that the Brimfield Township Trustees were at fault for his suspension.

“My elected folks are some of the best I have ever worked with,” Oliver wrote. “Had they not enforced the policy and disciplined me, the system would be worthless. NO ONE is above the rules. I am a big believer in taking responsibility and punishment; I expect it from my subordinates and will certainly adhere to my own expectations. I have learned a great deal from this experience and I will be a better chief and stronger administrator when I return.”

‘Somewhere in the middle is the truth’

While Oliver cited medical reasons as to why he retired, the announcement came days after he was suspended for what the township attorney, Gregory Beck, referred to as a gender discrimination claim. 

On Jan. 13, Beck said this is different than a sexual harassment claim because this claim is in reference to an employee trying to solicit a relationship with another, whereas a gender discrimination claim is when there is supposed gender inequality in a workplace.

Oliver responded to these claims in a Jan. 16 post to his personal Facebook page, that has since gone inactive.

“Folks, I am a hugger and a laugher,” Oliver wrote. “I have hugged every employee in that building more than once. I usually hug everyone I meet. I believe life is fun. People have stopped into the department from lots of different states for hugs.”

However, the complaint dated Dec. 10 and filed by a lawyer on behalf of Officer Crystal Casterline, said  “…she has repeatedly objected to actions by (Oliver) which constitute sexual harassment, hostile work environment and/retaliation for her opposition to sexual harassment.”

Casterline, who has been with the department for about two years, is still currently working there.

When asked by a reporter if he still thought Oliver was a good chief, board trustee and owner of the popular restaurant Mike’s Place, Mike Kostensky, said, “You’ve got good, you’ve got bad and somewhere in the middle is the truth.” 

Ongoing problem with PTSD

While Oliver said medical reasons were the reason he retired in his letter of resignation to Kostensky, many believe it was post-traumatic stress disorder that was at the root of the problem.

“PTSD was a real issue with Oliver,” Beck said. “The Positano murder really got to him.” 

Sarah Positano was a Kent State senior who was found murdered in her home by James Trimble as a result of a hostage situation on Jan. 22, 2005.

Renee Bauer, 42, and her 7-year-old son, Dakota, were killed the day before by Trimble, who is currently awaiting execution.

“Most of the officers were crying when they saw (Positano’s) body,” Kostensky said. “It’s not just something you get over.”

Board trustee Charles Sprague said Oliver’s history on the drug task force also could have had an affect on the PTSD. 

“That’s something that’s very intense,” Sprague said. “(The PTSD is) a health issue. Most officers retire after about 20 to 25 years, and Oliver did that.” 

Kostensky said retiring would be a relief for Oliver, who went above and beyond in a difficult position.

“This has been weighing on him for several weeks,” Kostensky said. “He came to us back in December and wanted to be done because it was just becoming too hard and too stressful, but we talked him out of it.”

Darlene Mettler, a resident of Brimfield for more than 30 years, said she loved and thought the world of Oliver.

“It’s a sad day for Brimfield, but it was his choice to leave,” she said.

A New Game Plan

Township executive Robert Keller said part of the first step moving forward is to sit down with Adkins.

“My intent would be to sit down with Capt. Adkins and look at the department’s structure and see if he wants to change that moving forward,” Keller said. 

However, Sprague said the board would like to retain as many of Oliver’s community programs as possible. 

“We’re going to continue all of the programs that was can,” the board chairman said. “We know what they mean to the community.”

Additionally, the township itself will undergo some new “training.”

“One of the things the board decided to do is retrain the whole township so we have a better understanding of how important diversity is, how important discrimination is and how we should not tolerate it at any level,” Beck said. 

Beck went on to say that no criminal charges are being filed against Oliver, but Casterline has options including filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or filing a claim under Ohio law, neither of which have been done. 

Oliver posted that he plans to keep his followers updated on his next move, which he was “sure will not be in law enforcement.” 

Adkins, who was acting as Oliver’s replacement during the suspension, posted on the department’s Facebook page Friday stating there were things he couldn’t comment on and did not believe that Facebook was the proper medium. 

“This is a page for the Brimfield Police Department and it is here for providing information to our citizens and to give them a forum to engage with their police department,” Adkins wrote. “The page will not be going anywhere; it is an asset. However, we cannot use it to its full potential if we are fighting through a war of comments and arguing amongst followers. With the way things have been going, reasonable concerns or questions will get lost in the crowd. Until we return to normal, please contact me or any one of our officers at (330) 673-7716.”

Katie Nix is the managing editor for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].