Holden Arboretum Police Department History
The Holden Arboretum formed its first police department in 1974 and employed two uniformed officers (Sgt. David Broad Water and Ptl. Roy Miller). The two officers were paid by Holden but commissioned through the City of Kirtland’s Police Department. In 1981, citing budgetary reasons and unmet institutional financial obligations, Sgt. Broadwater and Ptl. Miller and four other seasonal employees were laid off.
In 1988, because of increased trespassing, vandalism, and after-hours activity, Facilities Manager William Tucker was tasked by Executive Director Elliot Payne to develop a safety program that included police protection to safeguard life and property. With the help of criminal justice experts from Lakeland College and Case Western Reserve University, Holden established a law enforcement component by hiring a part time deputy sheriff. He was identified by uniform as a ranger and patrolled and enforced regulations on the grounds of the Arboretum that were within Geauga County. Subsequently, a national search was authorized by the Executive Director to locate and employ a Chief Ranger. The City of Kirtland vacated old Sperry Road and enacted local ordinances governing roadways, sign placement, off road usage and mutual police protection for Holden. This set the foundation for Sperry Road to become a private road and regulations for Holden’s Police Department.
In 1990, Carl Reinemann was hired as Chief Ranger and served in that position until January 17, 2007. Tasked with establishing a police department, Chief Reinemann consulted with state officials regarding the formation of a law enforcement agency. The State of Ohio had previously enacted legislation allowing qualified non-profit corporations to establish and maintain a police department. Then University Circle Vice President Ed Podijil was instrumental in the creation of this legislation.
In 1995, Holden decided to take advantage of current law and establish a qualified non-profit police department. The matter was researched and turned over to the Executive Director and Board of Trustees for action. The decision was primarily based on two factors: the reduction of liability, and the legal authority given to non-profit police departments to act in areas that might be off their property but affecting their operations. This decision allowed Holden police officers access to dispatch services, criminal justice information, and enforcement power under state law. The formation of Holden Police Department was a slow and methodically researched course of action over a period of several years.
On November 10, 1999, the Holden Board of Trustees voted to establish a police department. Per the requirements of the law, an Authorizing Agreement was signed by Holden and the City of Kirtland that governed law enforcement activities within and around The Holden Arboretum.
While the title of the Holden Arboretum Ranger Department changed to the Holden Arboretum Police Department; the uniforms retained the park ranger style and color signifying a strong natural resource connection.
The Holden Police Department is led by a full-time chief of police who is supported by two full-time and three part-time police officers. Other individuals that have served as Police Chief are:
- Josh Nau – January 19, 2007 to August 7, 2008
- David Frank – December 1, 2008 to February 22, 2019
- Sean O’Neil – August 5, 2019 to present
The mission of the Holden Arboretum Police Department is to deliver superior service to all guests through proactive, innovative and unbiased law enforcement practices, which will ensure proper stewardship of the Arboretum’s unique natural areas and collection. Central to this mission is the protection of life and property through the prevention of criminal activity. By providing for a safe environment the department strives to promote patron confidence and enhance visitor experience.
Holden officers patrol 3,600 acres of property which are in Kirtland, Kirtland Hills, Chardon Twp., Concord Twp. and Madison. The police department is also responsible for the safety of Holden employees, volunteers and visitors. With full law enforcement authority granted by state law under the Ohio Revised Code § 1702.80, Holden police have full arrest powers and have access to investigative resources such as:
- Law Enforcement Automated Data Base System
- National Crime Information Center
- Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway
Officers patrol Holden property via vehicle, foot and bicycle from 7am to 11pm, 365 days a year. Officers receive training each year in topics such as:
- Search and rescue
- Crisis intervention
- First aid
- Crime scene processing
- Active shooter response
- Narcotic field testing and identification
- Legal updates
- Drone usage