Hillsboro Mayor Drew Hastings was the keynote speaker Wednesday evening at an annual Law Enforcement Appreciation Banquet at the Holiday Inn & Suites in Eastgate.
Each year the Clermont County Chamber of Commerce, along with the Clermont County Sheriff’s Office, the Clermont County Prosecutor’s Office, Clermont County Bar Association, Clermont County Police Chiefs and Sheriff’s Associations, and the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #112 organizes the banquet “in order to recognize the outstanding achievements of the men and women in our law enforcement community,” according to a program description.
Last week, Hastings attended a seminar in Columbus sponsored by Ohio Auditor Dave Yost, whose office is leading an investigation against Hastings. Hastings said he did not find it awkward or ironic that he has been involved with or even featured at law enforcement gatherings while simultaneously being investigated.
“Not at all,” said the mayor. “When you haven’t done anything to be ashamed of, why should you feel awkward about it?” He said Chamber officials said Wednesday’s turnout of 300 was the biggest in the 33 years the event has been held.
According to a variety of warrants and affidavits issued since the investigation began last December, the known allegations against Hastings are in connection with the refund of $500 vacant building fee he had paid, the use of a city dumpster for personal debris, and questions about his residency when he filed to run for mayor in 2011.
The Hastings investigation has been widely reported statewide and even nationally, so it is unlikely that banquet officials were unaware of it. Did he hear any chatter about it at Wednesday’s banquet?
“No,” said Hastings, “but I opened up by telling them that in the interest of transparency, I’m under investigation by some of their related organizations, and it was nice to see a roomful of law enforcement officers who were not holding subpoenas or search warrants.”
Katie Bock, communications director for the Clermont Chamber, said Thursday that the event was a success and “it was nice to mix things up a little bit with a comedian.”
Hastings said he wasn’t sure that all law enforcement personnel in attendance appreciated a couple of his jokes, but in an email Bock said, “Everyone at my table was laughing so I’m calling it a good sign!”
Also on the program were Cincinnati radio legend Jim Scott and Rich Jaffe from Channel 12. Bob Proud, president of the Clermont County Commissioners and past chairman of the Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission, was on hand and read a proclamation honoring Police Week, and Hastings said he enjoyed a lengthy conversation with Proud following the event. Hastings said former Hamilton County prosecutor and sheriff Simon Leis also attended.
Those honored Wednesday included:
Investigations, Devotion to Duty Award: Detective Julie Liming, Milford Police Department. Presented by: Andrea Behanan, Duke Energy.
Outstanding Citizen Award: Captain Johnny Shea, Civil Air Patrol. Presented by: Jamey Mills, City of Milford PD.
Bravery, Devotion to Duty Award: Clermont County Special Response Team. Presented by: Aaron Maus, Aaron Maus Attorney at Law.
Criminal Investigation Award: Investigator Chris Allen, Clermont County Sheriff’s Office. Presented by: Vince Faris, Clermont County Prosecutor’s Office.
Traffic Safety Award: Trooper Drew M Hertlein, Ohio State Patrol – Batavia Post. Presented by: Karen Scherra, Clermont County Mental Health & Recovery Board.
Criminal Investigation Award: Officer Josh Hathorn, Union Township Police Department; Officer Chris Wilson, Union Township Police Department; Detective Ken Mullis, Union Township Police Department. Presented by: Cindy Gramke, Clermont Senior Services.
Criminal Investigation Award: Detective Rob Bradford, Miami Township Police Department; Sergeant Al Fatute, Miami Township Police Department; Detective Dan Tobias, Miami Township Police Department; Agent Ryan Frasher, Miami Township Police Department. Presented by: Matt Cook, Fifth Third Bank.
Drug Investigation and Arrest Award: Sergeant Jacob Hacker, Owensville Police Department. Presented by: Bill Cole, Rumpke Waste & Recycling.
Bravery, Devotion to Duty Award: Officer Jay Shaw, Pierce Township Police Department; K-9 Officer Razec, Pierce Township Police Department. Presented by: Tim Purdy, Sam’s Club Eastgate.
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.