Trustees appointed Lt. Tyson J. Bissler as Jackson Township’s acting police chief and hired Lawrence Township Police Chief Mark H. Brink as the department’s second in command.
Trustees have reloaded the top ranks of the Jackson Township Police Department after putting Police Chief David Zink on administrative leave Thursday.
Trustees appointed Lt. Ty J. Bissler as acting police chief, effective Friday, and hired Lawrence Township Police Chief Mark H. Brink as the department’s second in command.
Bissler, an employee since 1994 who now oversees the department’s patrol division, will serve as acting chief until agents with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation complete their criminal investigation involving Zink.
Since at least early March, BCI agents have interviewed women who interacted with Zink, asking them questions about whether his actions toward them or other women had ever been inappropriate. It’s unclear whether the state’s investigation involves the same female officer who made the complaint against Zink last year.
Jill Del Greco, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office which serves as the BCI’s legal arm, declined to comment Friday regarding the state’s open investigation. No charges have been filed.
James Walters, who serves as president of the township trustee board, said trustees chose to appoint an acting chief because they do not know the scope of BCI’s probe.
“We have very limited information about the investigation that is going on so we do not know at what point this investigation is at and we don’t know how long it will take,” Walters said.
Trustees did not appoint an acting chief in November when they placed Zink on administrative leave or in December when they suspended him for a month after an out-of-county investigator found allegations that Zink made multiple unwanted sexual advances toward a female police officer credible. Zink has denied the allegations.
Brink, who has been Lawrence Township’s police chief since 2005 and earns $73,000 a year, will start his new job as major April 29 and must complete a one-year probationary period. He will earn $84,000 a year.
On Friday, he called the move bittersweet because he will be leaving the department where he’s worked since 1991. But he said taking a ranking position in a larger police department where he could interact more with officers on an individual basis was too attractive of an opportunity to ignore.
He said the investigation involving Zink had no bearing on his decision to take the job.
“I told the trustees that I’m applying for the major’s job and with my understanding of the job description ... I feel like I’m very capable of performing those duties,” Brink said. “The chief’s situation is really not something I need to be worried about or something I need to be involved in.”
Brink, 50, previously was a bailiff for Massillon Municipal Court and held jobs at the Barberton Rescue Mission and the former Brinkhaven Homes for Youth in the North Lawrence area. He also has served as a member and president of the board that oversees the Regional Emergency Dispatch Center, is a member of the Stark County Police Chiefs Association and is a certified forensic counselor and state-certified chemical dependency counselor.
Page 2 of 2 - Trustees selected Brink from among 20 applicants that included four other police chiefs, an Ohio Highway Patrol post commander and other high-ranking Stark County officers. The position has been vacant since Zink became police chief in 2010.
Walters said that Brink’s experience in a township police department gave him an edge over some of the other finalists.
“We just felt the major’s position was a better fit to Chief Brink,” Walters said. “... The day-to-day management that he does for Lawrence Township is similar to the day-to-day management that he will do as major in our department.”
Walters denied that trustees sought to fill the major position only to replace Zink. He noted that the township began its search for a new major in February.
“We weren’t made aware of anything (regarding the investigation with Zink) until Wednesday,” he said.
He also defended the township’s decision to place Zink on administrative leave with pay.
“We really don’t have a choice in this instance,” Walters said. “We can’t sanction him when it’s not clear that he’s done anything improper. At the same time, it’s not prudent and not in the best interest of the township to have him managing the department day-to-day.”
In December, Zink had agreed to forfeit three weeks of his vacation leave to refund the township for the weeks he spent on paid leave.
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