Shanafelt retires after 28 years with KSU Police Department

Katie Hilbert

Bill Shanafelt spent 28 years working in the Kent State Police Department, but according to some of the people he worked with, he didn’t look or act like a cop.

R.P. Flynn, the director of judicial affairs, called Shanafelt “non-typical.”

“He’s just the everyman,” Flynn said.

Lt. Bill Shanafelt retired Sunday. He had experience in almost all of the major supervising responsibilities, said John Peach, Kent State Police Chief. Shanafelt spent nine years supervising the Western Portage County Drug Task Force. In addition, he also was a shift supervisor in the patrol section and a supervisor in the investigation section, Peach said.

Shanafelt told the Akron Beacon Journal that the time he spent on the drug task force was the highlight of his career.

Portage County Prosecutor Victor Vigluicci, who met Shanafelt working on the drug task force, said he was impressed with him.

“I was impressed with his skills at disguise and changing his appearance,” Vigluicci said. “He was very good at what he did as an undercover officer.”

Vigluicci said Shanafelt was able to look like he was a professional, or he could look like he was a homeless person.

The man known for his disguises and his ability to go unnoticed slipped out of town before he could be interviewed for this story. According to the Akron Beacon Journal, Shanafelt and his family are moving out of state.

When Peach met Shanafelt 28 years ago, he said Shanafelt was an “eager, young officer.” Peach said he and the others in the department were “very optimistic” that Shanafelt would fit in well.

Time proved Peach’s hunch correct.

Peach said Shanafelt left a legacy. He described him as a man who carefully evaluates situations, so he can make the right decision. Peach said Shanafelt rarely missed work and that he had self-discipline and “great integrity.”

He also said Shanafelt acted as a mentor to the younger officers, and said he was a friend to all he worked with.

Flynn spoke highly of Shanafelt’s work, as well.

“I’ve always trusted him,” Flynn said. “He has proved to be reliable.”

Peach said the department will give a promotional test to determine which officer is best suited to take over Shanafelt’s position.

Vigluicci said he hates to see Shanafelt retire.

“Those kinds of guys are hard to replace,” he said.

Contact public affairs reporter Katie Hilbert at [email protected].