Police Chief Jim Rose said it was a "very difficult decision" for him to resign and accept a deputy chief position with the Perrysburg Police Department.
However, Rose said the Perrysburg department offered him $30,000 more than his current salary and he knows the department's chief well. Both worked at the Willard Police Department for several years.
"The citizens (of Milan) have been great," said Rose, who served as Milan's police chief for two years and recently announced his resignation. "I really enjoy this community. There's been a lot of great interaction."
Rose said he feels he's made a positive impact on Milan. That has included converting the department's records management system from paper to electronic-based, providing officers with access to the Internet and giving them e-mail accounts and initiating the Officer Phil program. The latter, which was funded through local businesses, teaches children about safety in different aspects of life, such as traffic safety, Internet safety, bicycle safety and "stranger danger."
Rose said he decided last Tuesday to accept the position in Perrysburg.
"Initially I thought I would retire here," said the outgoing chief, whose last day is next Wednesday. But then he heard about the open position in Perrysburg, which he said "offered me better working conditions."
When asked to expound, Rose said there were "some people" in Milan who didn't want him there. He added he believes they didn't like the idea that someone not from Milan became its police chief.
"It was the politics that was tough for me," Rose said.
However, he added that it didn't affect his ability to perform his job.
"I didn't let it affect anything," Rose said.
He was asked if the "politics" played a role in his decision to accept the Perrysburg position.
"It enters into it a little bit," Rose said. "Is it the final decision? Absolutely not."
Mayor Steve Rockwell said he was surprised to learn that Rose is leaving.
"Jim did a great job for the village of Milan. I hate to see him go," the mayor said. "From my standpoint I thought Jim was an excellent employee and a good chief. I have no problem with him. He fulfilled the expectations."
Rose's resignation letter to Rockwell, dated Sept. 18, reads "Please accept this letter as my resignation as Chief of Police for the Village of Milan effective Oct. 3, 2013."
Council member Richard Maloney called Rose "a good man. You don't find a person like him every day. I like him. I thought he was a wonderful police chief."
Maloney added that he doesn't believe many people know that Rose wanted to come to Milan.
From October 1974 to February 1979, he served as a sergeant with the U.S. Marines Military Police Armed Forces Police Detachment. From April 1979 to August 1985, Rose was a patrol officer with the Willard Police Department. From August 1985 through January 1988, he was chief deputy with the Huron County Sheriff's Office.
Before coming to Milan, Rose was the court security manager for the Ohio Supreme Court and oversaw security operations. He held the position from June 2005 until July 2011. Rose earlier retired from the Delaware, Ohio Police Department.
Rose was hired in Milan in mid-July 2011, replacing retired Chief Jim Ward, who served Milan for more than 35 years.
In August 2012, more than 230 village residents attended a council meeting during which council voted unanimously, and without discussion, to hire Rose as the village's full-time chief. His probationary period had recently finished. At the time, rumors had been spreading that Rockwell's delay in permanently hiring Rose signaled he was considering firing him.
But Rockwell said he never considered firing Rose. At that council meeting, he recommended to members that they hire Rose full time.
Council president John Fox, a sergeant with the Milan Police Department for 16 years, was one of three people who interviewed 16 individuals for the job after Ward retired. The other interviewers were former mayor Robert Bickley and Greg Bodkin, a former Huron police officer and current Milan resident who teaches criminal justice at EHOVE.
Fox said of the people interviewed, Rose "by far rose to the top."
"It's a sad day in Milan," Fox said about Rose's announcement. "We lost a good man. He's brought the police department up to modern times."
Fox was asked about any administrative conflicts or issues with Rose.
"This has been going on since we hired him," Fox said.
He added that fiscal officer Mary Bruno "kept reducing his budget to the point he couldn't do any work. She said we don't have any money in the general fund."
Fox wondered aloud what happened to the money raised through the increase in village taxes by a half percent, enacted a couple years ago.
Bruno was out of the office Monday. She did not return a message left on her home phone in time for publication.
Overall, Rose has more than 32 years of law enforcement experience, including being a special deputy with the U.S. Marshal's Office. His experience includes local time with the Willard Police Department and Huron County Sheriff's Office.
"He was the chief deputy for Tom Dunlap," said Milan resident Greg Mehling, who has been Rose's friend for 25 years.
After Dunlap decided not to run for sheriff, Rose ran in 1988. Mehling said Rose came in second in a four-candidate race that resulted in the election of Richard Sutherland.
Mehling met Rose about the time he was in Willard and Mehling was working for the Norwalk Police Department.
"Our second good public official has left here in 20 months -- and that's Jim Rose," said Mehling, who has lived in Milan for eight years.
"He has been a great police chief -- the best thing that's happened to this town in 20 years. Besides that, he's just a great human being. They just screwed with this guy until finally he said, 'I've had enough,'" Mehling said.
When asked to clarify, Mehling said he believes there was tension between Rose and Bruno over financial issues.
"It was a really bad situation in this little town. ... He had had enough of it. He had this opportunity (in Perrysburg) and took it," Mehling said.
Rose lived in Delaware where Mehling's mother lived. Mehling, whose father died in 1990, said Rose would help his widowed mother by raking leaves, shoveling snow, cleaning the gutters and cutting grass.
"He did this for years -- and wouldn't take a penny for it. That's the kind of guy he is," Mehling said.
"Jim was the best thing that happened to this (Milan) community," he said. "He was extremely overqualified for this job. He has been my friend for 25 years.
"He said he would be real active in the community -- and he did that," Mehling added.
Rockwell said council will vote at its 7 p.m. meeting Wednesday on whether to accept Rose's resignation. Rockwell added council will discuss possible replacements, but Sgt. Bob Meister, the senior employee under Rose, would probably serve as interim chief until a full-time person is hired.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Reflector Staff Writer Cary Ashby contributed to this story.