Brecksville’s Police Chief Dennis Kancler Retires
The city has named an interim chief and a permanent replacement will be chosen in the next few months.
Today was Police Chief Dennis Kancler’s last day on the job.
To him, it’s another day, much like a birthday – something you note, but nothing earth-shaking.
“It is another day,” Kancler said at the end of December. “It is a transition.”
For Kancler, stories of his years of service are a collection of praise for the men and women he’s worked with in the past. He likes to defer credit for things, and his anecdotes are sprinkled with compliments for the people who have crossed his path during his decades of service with Brecksville, especially those who worked as officers in his department.
“From my viewpoint, I can brag on everybody here,” Kancler said.
“It’s all about these men and women.”
Kancler wanted to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, who were both police officers. The chief has worked as a policeman, a part-time fireman and a medic in Brecksville and as a park ranger for the Cleveland Metroparks. He became a full-time police officer after five years with the park.
Kancler became chief in 1989 and has worked hard to make things happen for the department ever since. Even when Kancler talks about his years on an anti-terrorism taskforce for Ohio, he focuses on others: on what he learned from the doctors and policy makers on the committee and on how a question from one of his officers sparked ideas for new emergency equipment.
That attitude illustrates how he describes his job of the last 21 years – as the “top of the food chain,” the person who finds the money and time to put the officers’ ideas into place.
“The people that make things happen are those closest to the road,” Kancler said.
Mayor Jerry N. Hruby said that Kancler’s career has been a “remarkable” one, and added that the chief made the department stronger. He was meticulous in updating policies and moving the department forward with better technology and equipment. And with the city’s low crime rate and low number of accidents, “who can argue with the success of the man?” Hruby asked.
And success isn’t just measured in statistics. Fire Chief Ed Egut said the open line of communication between the fire and police departments has been a positive, and that Kancler’s skills and knowledge will be missed.
“I feel it’s been a real honor and privilege to work with him,” Egut added.
Ted Lux, the director of human services, commented on Kancler’s humor, calling it a notch above the typical. He also remembered the chief’s advice, especially from his first day – Lux laughed, saying that he was late to his first day of work because he got caught up in conversation with Kancler outside City Hall.
Hruby said he will choose the next chief after giving a competitive exam, likely in February or March. Until then, the mayor’s office said Capt. Michael J. Carlin III will serve as the acting interim chief.
A number of officers are leaving or are eligible to leave soon, Kancler said, but he feels the department will be in good hands. Each chief before him moved the department a bit further forward, and the next one will make the department “brighter and better and more efficient,” he said.
Kancler plans to spend his retirement taking care of himself and spending time with family, but beyond that, he’s leaving it open. He will miss being where the action is, though.
“If there’s people in trouble, you want to be there,” Kancler said.
After all, he noted, that’s why people get into public service: to help others.