The word “privilege” pops up a lot as Sylvania Township Police Chief Robert Boehme discusses his 38 years on the safety force and his decision to retire at the end of the year.
He said it so often that he caught himself at one point, and changed the word to say it has been a “blessing” to have spent his working years until now as a police officer.
The chief was sworn in as a patrol officer in 1981, while his father, also Robert, was chief. His father became chief in 1970 to form what could be called the modern Sylvania Township Police Department.
The chief, known as Rob, entered law school at the University of Toledo after obtaining his bachelor’s degree. He was following his father’s advice, but not far into law school he decided to follow his father’s example.
He had to make a deal with his dad establishing some circumstances which would result in a return to law school, but that obviously never happened.
“I was lucky. I just found my niche. A lot of people don’t.”
“There have been some ups and downs, but I wouldn’t change what I’ve done.”
The chief said he had the advantage of watching things his father instituted, “which were ahead of their time he was ahead of his time.”
Chief Boehme said his father initiated the continuing practice of checking houses while occupants are away and other courtesies to township residents.
If there was ever a chance the chief would forget some of those lessons, and there hasn’t been, he need only look over his left shoulder for a reminder.
On the wall of his office is a family photo of Chief Boehme as a toddler on the knee of his father who is wearing the uniform of a cadet in the Toledo Police Academy.
He acknowledges that “growing up around cops” probably influenced his decision to join the department, but a job “where you help people and put bad guys in jail–what could be better,” he said.
In the chief’s view, law enforcement is only one facet of the job.
“We try to help in neighborhood disputes, we might talk to parents if we see a kid might be headed for trouble,” he said, adding that it is a privilege that community members will come to an officer and ask for help.
Another positive factor is being “in a community which gives us so much support. We are often able to have the time to interact instead of always running from one call to another.”
“It’s always nice to go home and know you made a positive difference,”he said.
John Jennewine, chairman of the Sylvania Township trustees, said Chief Boehme’s retirement is well-earned and accolades are deserved.
“We’d had a series of chiefs, and Chief Boehme came in and established a continuity and a sense of stability I think helped the department as a hole.
He added that not only has there not be a “black eye” during the chief’s tenure, but there have been innovations in trying to get the department even closer to the community. such as the periodic “Coffee with a Cop,” forums.
Chief Boehme acknowledged that retiring wasn’t an easy decision. “The hardest part is that I won’t any longer be working with the best men and women I can imagine. This is a group of honest, dedicated people who truly want to help others,” he said, referring to the department.
The economics of staying as opposed to retiring weighed on the side of retirement, and at least a curiosity about what might be ahead also led to the decision.
“I’m an outdoor guy. I once thought about being a park ranger. I might be able to get something in one of the area’s park districts.
“For now, I’m building a house on 5.5 acres and that will keep me busy.”
A longer-term goal is to get a camper, “and drive up the spine of the Rockies to Alaska. Stop overnight somewhere, and leave in the morning or in a week or two. That’s for the bucket list”
No matter what might be in the future, Chief Boehme added, ‘once a cop, always a cop.”
And for him that means the Sylvania Township Police Department.
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