Brian Uhl is leaving his Village of Oregon police chief job next month.
Uhl, who has been chief since August 2015, accepted a job as Ashwuabenon’s director of public safety, according to a story in the Press Times. He will begin his new role Monday, Feb. 17.
“It has truly been my honor to serve (the community) these past four and a half years,” he told the Observer in a Tuesday, Jan. 28, email.
In a Friday, Jan. 24, Village of Oregon Police Department Facebook post, Uhl announced his resignation as the chief, saying he had also let the village know. He said his last day will be Thursday, Feb. 13.
He said in the Press Times story he is excited about the new position – Uhl will be in charge of Ashwaubenon’s police, fire and emergency medical services departments. The story stated he was one of two finalists for the job – the other was Ed Janke, the Village of Howard’s public safety director.
Uhl came under village scrutiny in November for his on-the-job conduct, including his manner in dealing with citizens, public comments about negotiations with the school board over an agreement to staff an officer in the school and the stop of a minor in September.
Since village president Jeanne Carpenter outlined those concerns in a statement last fall, he has met at least once with a community group that was critical of his handling of incidents and created a plan to address those concerns.
The Facebook post outlines how the department was struggling when Uhl started his position back in 2015. He said under his supervision, the once “troubled” OPD has become one of 36 departments in the state to attain accreditation.
It also said the news media reported the story before the decision to leave was final and that the job here turned out not to be a good fit.
Uhl’s Facebook post said he is leaving OPD in a “much better place” than when he arrived, which appears to be an allusion to myriad policies and procedures he and his staff updated and controversies that preceded his arrival, including a state Department of Justice investigation into tax evasion charges by the previous chief.
When Uhl was hired in 2015, the village was under an interim chief, Dale Burke, who had been brought 15 months earlier to help with the sudden leave of absence of the previous chief, Doug Pettit. While under medical leave, Pettit retired under the cloud of an investigation that resulted in the 39-year OPD veteran being charged with two felony counts of tax evasion and being denounced by village officials for practices he allegedly engaged in while serving as chief.
Pettit, at the time the longest-serving police chief in the state at just under 30 years, was charged in December 2014 with two counts of felony tax evasion but succumbed to gastric cancer the same month Uhl was sworn in.
Five months later, the department’s second in command, Lt. Karey Clark, died reportedly of natural causes and later was investigated over prescription drugs and cash that had gone missing from an evidence room he controlled.
In his early days as chief, Uhl told the Observer in 2017, he discovered some policies that had not been updated since the 1980s. In addition to updating hundreds of policies over the next two years to improve the professionalism of the department and its image, he also had it change its logo and badges.
He wrote in the post he thought when he moved his family to the community, Oregon would be their home for “many, many years to come.”
“Unfortunately, it has become obvious that this isn’t the right fit and the negative effects on my family and me are just too great of a cost to remain in my position here,” Uhl said. “My integrity and my desire to do what is right are things I am not willing to compromise on”
He said while he understands it can be easy to be critical of a police officer, people should “take a minute to realize you don’t always have the complete picture.”
“Also please keep in mind that they are human,” Uhl said. “Your negative words can have devastating effects far beyond what you can even begin to imagine.”
A vast majority of post commenters thanked the chief for his service in Oregon and wished him well in his next chapter.
“Because of the hard work of the members of the Oregon Police Department, this community can and should be very proud of every single one of (the officers),” Uhl wrote.