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New Shaker Heights police chief brings fresh perspective from previous job in Nebraska

Posted at 5:51 PM, Feb 06, 2023

SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio — When Jeffrey DeMuth retired as the police chief of Shaker Heights last year he did so after 33 years of service in the department. It was also the exact same number of years that the chief he replaced, Scott Lee, also had in Shaker. But the new police chief, Wayne Hudson, comes from not only outside of the department but outside of the state, having spent the last 28 years with the Douglas County Nebraska Sheriff's Department.

"There's always challenges," Hudson told News 5. "It's just getting used to the city, getting used to the culture of the city, the culture of the community, but no more a challenge than I was facing at home."

Hudson, who was hired after a nationwide search, said he was drawn to job by the support for the department both at the city and community level and its history of diversity, equity and inclusion.

"The department has the funding, it has the personnel, it has the support from the city government so that's something I really wanted to be a part of," he said.

Hudson barely raised his hand to take the oath when the city was dealing with it's first homicide of the year. A woman found dead inside a Tolland Road apartment building with numerous injuries to her body. The public, though, was not made aware of the crime for another two days.

When asked if he was a part of that decision, Hudson said, "I was and I'm not going to go too far into detail about it. It's just that there were certain aspects of the investigation that we had to keep close to the vest to make sure that we weren't putting out information that would harm the investigation."

A Cleveland man was arrested on murder charges in Florida two days after the body was discovered.

Still, the new chief said communication with the public is key and it's one of the things he will be looking at as he conducts a six month evaluation, meeting with the department's 68 sworn officers as well as the support staff and making his recommendations to the administration.

"For me, the one thing the mayor has always said, and I would agree with, is that he wants a transparent agency and to me meeting the chief one on one, this is a part of that transparency," he said.

Still what he's found tells him he made the right choice.

"My initial view of the department is it's a very good department. They are at probably nine years now of record low 'part one crimes.' They have support from the administration, the mayor, the chief administrative officer and from talking to the community. The community really supports the department, and I'm glad to be here and be the chief," he said.