Jim O'Bryant has seen much of the Toledo Police Department over his 33-year career, and leaves with a sense of pride.
“This place is in great shape. This place is good as it's ever been. And it will only get better,” he said.
Mr. O'Bryant, 55, retired Friday after decades in city law enforcement and four years as deputy chief. He most recently oversaw the investigative services division.
Upon graduating Start High School and University of Toledo, Mr. O'Bryant joined the department in September, 1985, at the age of 23. He intended to be a teacher and coach, but took the police test alongside a friend. His father was a sergeant at the time.
He quickly enjoyed the academy's challenges and serving as one of many young officers at the time. His first posts were in central and east Toledo. Early on, the job brought rushes of criminal pursuits and satisfaction in helping those on their most difficult day.
He later went on to serve in supervisory roles within investigations, community services, the police academy, field operations, and personnel. They offered varied experiences of police patrol, school resource programs, and human resources.
Mr. O'Bryant sought to instill a tone for how the department conducts police work and tried to further enable trust in officers. He repeatedly praised the work of many department sections.
“This job is doing the right thing, doing your best, and treating other people the way you want to be treated,” he said. “Those are three rules of life that I used with my own children raising them, to coaching [Catholic Youth Organization] football, to talking to police officers in the academy, to talking to roll calls here as I leave here today.”
He cited TPD’s response to large-scale incidents during the past few weeks as evidence of a professional department handling difficult events well. Those instances include officers shooting and killing both a robbery suspect after he fatally stabbed a victim, and a suspect in an unrelated case who was brandishing a firearm while fleeing police, and cases of responding officers’ exposure to potentially lethal drugs.
He said he felt lucky to see such impressive efforts at the end of his career.
Mr. O'Bryant looks forward to more time with his wife, four adult children, and eight grandchildren. He plans to stay involved through the Central City Ministry of Toledo advisory board and a department service program called Disciples in Blue.
Captain David Mueller, the current investigations bureau commander, will take Mr. O’Bryant’s place as deputy chief in command of investigative services.
Police Chief George Kral said Mr. O'Bryant always preached balance while on the job.
“He cares about the citizens. He cares about the city. He cares about protecting people. He cares about protecting the welfare of his officers,” Chief Kral said.
Mr. O'Bryant is a smart, natural leader who fought for what members of the department needed, the chief said.
“If you could make a mold of the perfect cop, leader, manager, friend, it would be Jim O'Bryant,” he said.
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