Genoa PD Chief Taylor Retires
BY: LENNY C. LEPOLA, ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR, SUNBURY NEWS
During a May 30 Genoa Township Board of Trustees special meeting in the Genoa Township Hall, Genoa Police Department Chief Robert Taylor and Deputy Chief Dave Stout announced their retirements, effective July 31.
During an interview last week, Chief Taylor, who served the past 15-plus years at the Genoa Police Department helm, described his circuitous journey into law enforcement.
Chief Taylor is a central Ohio native — born and raised in Columbus in the Clintonville area where he and his wife Marjorie still live. He attended Bishop Watterson High School, where he played basketball for four years.
After high school, Chief Taylor attended Bliss Business College in Columbus for one year, then explored a vocation with the Brothers of the Holy Cross.
“I decided the religious life was not for me,” Chief Taylor said. “I joined the Air Force for four years — that was during the Vietnam conflict, but I never left the states; I was stationed at Minot Air Force base in North Dakota for four years.”
Returning to Columbus, Chief Taylor was employed at a Westinghouse factory on the west side for nine months, then went back into the military as an Army reservist and worked at Fort Hayes at the 83rd U.S. Army Reserve Command — ARCOM — for two and a half years, working his way up to an E-6 (Technical Sergeant) rank.
“I didn’t like what I was doing, so my wife and I decided I would go back to school full- time,” Chief Taylor said. “While I was studying Business Administration at Franklin University, I was watching Adam-12 on television and became interested in law enforcement, started taking tests and was hired by the Franklin County Sheriff ’s Department on Dec. 3, 1973.”
Chief Taylor said he started at the Franklin County Corrections Center like all deputies do; seven months later he was on patrol, two and a half years after that he was transferred to the detective bureau to do investigations.
“I did narcotics for five years — undercover — and then was assigned to the Columbus Police Department Intelligence Bureau for two years,” Chief Taylor said. “I was assigned to Internal Affairs for two and a half years and was promoted to lieutenant.”
Chief Taylor was then involved in organizing a Special Operations Bureau — narcotics, vice, white-collar crime, political corruption — that led to an investigation of former Franklin County Sheriff Earl Smith.
“Things got real nasty, and I was demoted from lieutenant to sergeant,” Chief Taylor said. “We stuck with it, turned our notes over the Justice Department, the FBI stepped in and picked it up. That investigation led to indictments and citizens voted Earl Smith out of office in 1992.”
The year 1990 was a good year for Chief Taylor, and a bit prophetic. He earned a Masters Degree in Criminal Justice in 1990, and also accepted a position as chief of the Genoa Township Police Department, a position he held for two years.
“When Jim Carnes became Franklin County Sheriff, he brought me back as a chief deputy,” Chief Taylor said. “Then this position opened up again in 1997 and the Board of Trustees asked me if I was willing to come back. That gave me the opportunity to retire from Franklin County and I came up here in 1998.”
With 40 years in law enforcement, Chief Taylor said he’s seen a lot of changes. In 1973, there were only three radio channels and no walkies, no mandatory ballistic vests, no seatbelt requirements.
“Then when you look at what law enforcement has today,” Chief Taylor said. “The technology — cameras and computers in cars, multi-jurisdictional communications — and the training. When I went to the academy we had 160 hours and one and a half weeks with a training officer. Then a sergeant walked in and threw the keys at me.”
Chief Taylor said training today is much more rigorous. The City of Columbus Police Department and the Ohio State Highway Patrol have 400-hour Field Training Officer programs, in addition to academy hours.
“Law enforcement training has definitely improved, and the quality of officers is significantly better,” Chief Taylor said. “When I started in Franklin County, I was 120th on the seniority list, and only three deputies on that list had a degree. Today, a lot of recruits come into law enforcement with a degree already.”
With retirement on the immediate horizon, Chief Taylor said there are several Genoa Township criminal cases that he had hoped to see resolved — the 2001 murder of Lisa Gross, the 2002 discovery of a newborn baby girl’s body discarded in a weighted down garbage bag found at Hoover Reservoir, and the assault on Genoa PD’s Lieutenant Greg Yurkovich at Red Bank Harbor in April of this year.
Chief Taylor said the Delaware Sheriff ’s Department has the Lisa Gross investigation and is actively pursuing the cold case; Genoa Township investigators are searching for the Greg Yurkovich assailants.
With his July 31 retirement just a month away, Chief Taylor said he’s looking forward to the moment with some trepidation.
“My wife and I are turning over another chapter in our lives,” he said. “After working all these years, it’s definitely going to be different. We’ll volunteer at church and at social agencies, and be doing some gardening, some traveling. We’ll try to make it enjoyable and productive.”
He said it’s been a strange journey — from the religious life to the military to law enforcement and now into retirement. But he also said in reality he retired when he entered law enforcement.
“I haven’t worked a day of my life since I came into law enforcement,” Chief Taylor said. “I’ve enjoyed every minute of it; I’ve been very blessed. Serving your community is truly an honor. Law enforcement is a great profession, but it’s the people we serve and the officers I’ve been associated with — I’m going to miss them all.”