The Urbana Police Division recognized the careers of two long-time officers last week as they retired from the division.
Sgt. Ed Burkhammer and Officer Brian Cordial retired on Thursday and Friday respectively after being members of the division since 1992.
Sgt. Ed Burkhammer
A West Liberty native, Burkhammer graduated from West Liberty-Salem High School in 1987 and proceeded to join the Army where he served until January 1992.
He joined the division in September 1992, receiving his basic police officer’s training at the Clark State Community College Police Academy.
Urbana Police Chief Matt Lingrell said Burkhammer was a fast learner and early on was named one of the first field training officers for the division. Being involved in the field training program for the last 21 years, Burkhammer said he has had some involvement in every employee’s training hired over that period of time.
He became the lead firearms instructor for the division in 1998, implementing many training improvements to the program that are still used today.
Burkhammer furthered his education using the city’s tuition reimbursement program and obtained his Associate’s Degree in criminal justice from Clark State in 1998 and his Bachelor of Science degree from Urbana University in 2001. He also graduated from the Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command in 2011.
“Ed is well known throughout the area in the law enforcement community as an instructor in various police topics, most notably in crisis intervention training,” Lingrell said.
In September 2010, Burkhammer was recognized by the state of Ohio at a Columbus conference as the state of Ohio Crisis Intervention Officer of the Year.
Burkhammer credited Champaign County Common Pleas Court Judge Nick Selvaggio for so much that he has learned from him throughout his career along with Champaign County Prosecutor Kevin Talebi for the cases they have worked on together.
Burkhammer was promoted to the sergeant position in October 2008 and a few years later was appointed as the head of the division’s investigative unit.
“I selected Sgt. Burkhammer to oversee the division’s investigative unit in 2011 and he did this until it was disbanded in 2016 due to dangerously low manpower staffing in the patrol unit,” Lingrell said. “During his time in investigations while he handled many difficult or high-profile cases on a weekly basis, he was in place to help the UPD as we dealt with three homicide cases.”
Burkhammer previously had experience working investigations during his time in the Army. Burkhammer said the division’s training helps officers develop more skills to be well rounded.
“I had got selected to go work investigations so I had some background and I went to an investigative academy in the Army,” Burkhammer said. “At Urbana PD, we train officers here to do everything. They’re not just traffic officers or they’re not just investigators, we try to train our officers on every aspect of law enforcement to give them a wide variety of knowledge.”
During his time in the investigative unit, Burkhammer oversaw or assisted in the investigations of the March 2012 homicide case of Jessica Rae Sacco for which he was awarded the Distinguished Criminal Investigation Award by the American Police Hall of Fame, the May 2014 homicide case of Jerald Myers for which he was awarded the division’s Distinguished Duty award, and the March 2015 robbery of Security National Bank which resulted in the arrests and convictions of the two co-defendants responsible for the crime.
Burkhammer said as he got older, he developed a drive to speak for crime victims. As part of his investigations role, Burkhammer worked for the Child Abuse Response Team and was the primary contact for children’s services for three years working child abuse and child sexual assault cases.
“They affected me,” Burkhammer said about the cases with child victims. “I felt like if we didn’t thoroughly do our jobs they never get justice.
“The police and the children’s services representatives have to speak for the child. No one else can and those cases that we were successful in are probably the ones that I’m most proud of.”
Burkhammer is preparing for a new role with the Ohio Department of Public Safety as a program administrator for the Office of Criminal Justice Services. Some of the responsibilities Burkhammer will have in this new role include policy development and grant appropriation.
“Some of the jobs that I’m going to be responsible for are developing and improving technology for law enforcement,” Burkhammer said. “Having the experience of knowing what an officer on the street or detective needs to better do their job or do it faster through technology, I’m going to be able to work with the right people to improve the current programs officers use in the state of Ohio.”
As he leaves the division, Burkhammer said he has made a lot of lifelong friends within the department, from surrounding agencies and within the city.
“Urbana is a good place and it has a good police department and not because I’m a member. I just believe that they are truly trying to do good,” Burkhammer said. “It’s a very trying time, but the people here truly care about doing right and I’m proud of that.”
“For his 24 years serving the city of Urbana, I know we’ve been blessed in the fact that many victims were fortunate that it was Ed Burkhammer showing up to their call for help while they were in crisis,” Lingrell said. “He never short-changed them with his efforts to make their world a better place. For this I say to Sgt. Ed Burkhammer, on behalf of the Urbana Police Division, both past and present, it is my honor and privilege to say thank you for a career well done.”
Officer Brian Cordial
A native of Fairborn, Cordial graduated from Fairborn High School in 1989 and joined the Air Force before starting with the division in July 1992.
“It’s just something I always liked,” Cordial said about his decision to go into law enforcement. “I was surprised that I didn’t become a fireman. At one point as a child, one of my best friends growing up his father was a fireman down in Fairborn and I ended up spending a lot of time around the firehouse subsequently but I also grew up on a block that had one Greene County deputy and three Fairborn police officers on it and as a young child that’s all I had ever seen so that’s really what I always wanted to do.”
Cordial was assigned to Lingrell’s shift. Lingrell described Cordial as fun to work with.
“I want Brian to know that his friendly attitude towards fellow employees, and the public he serves is what people will remember about him,” Lingrell said. “Working with Brian has a tendency to bring a smile to your face. I appreciate his last 24 years serving with us at the Urbana Police Division. Serving others is the best part of life and Brian did this well.”
Three people Cordial said who he learned a lot from in his adult life were his father Clarence Cordial, his father-in-law Larry Chrisman and Lingrell.
Early in his career, Cordial was tasked with traveling throughout the area representing the division at job fairs to help recruit new officers.
Throughout his career, Lingrell said Cordial had a knack for finding stolen vehicles and received commendations for his successes. This included one night where he recovered three stolen vehicles during an eight-hour shift.
Since 1997, Cordial has been one of the division’s field training officers helping to develop many of the current officers into well-trained officers.
“You see these guys come in and they’re fresh out of the police academy which gives them a good basic knowledge,” Cordial said. “With our program we put them through 11 weeks of how we operate, not how police operate. It’s just the way our division and our city operate.”
Cordial said the division spends time to ensure officers have what they need to perform their job comfortably and confidently and takes great pride in the training program.
In 1997, Cordial was awarded the UPD Life Saving Award for his efforts to remove a wheelchair bound elderly woman from her burning home.
In 2003, Cordial was commended by the division as one of the officers responsible for an investigation involving a sexual predator who had been luring school-aged children into his vehicle, where he would commit sexual acts against them. Lingrell said Cordial helped to identify the perpetrator, build a criminal case against him and arrest him for the kidnapping and sexual imposition of a 16-year-old female victim.
The man convicted in that case received a six-year, 11-month prison sentence.
Since 2007, Cordial has been tasked with overseeing the division’s property control system, which takes in over 1,000 items per year. Cordial was responsible for delivering evidence to and from the state crime lab, conducting periodic audits and conducting the annual July 4 police auction where unclaimed or court-ordered disposed property is sold.
Cordial said being in charge of the property room was the role he took the most pride in.
Cordial has also been responsible for conducting drug drop-off programs and a grant manager for obtaining new bulletproof vests for officers each year.
Speaking on retirement, Cordial said within the last year he knew he was looking to move on. He was informed by Champaign County Municipal Court Judge Gil Weithman that the court was going to add a third probation officer and asked if he would be interested in the position. Cordial accepted the offer.
“Unfortunately a lot of the people that are placed on probation I either have already dealt with at some point in my career or I am familiar with them,” Cordial said on how his experience will help him as a probation officer. “I know the Ohio Revised Code, I know what it took to make the arrest and I’m a people’s person. I know how to deal with people and I believe that those are qualities that you’re going to have to have if you’re going to be in that kind of position.”
“I have a Chief’s Challenge Coin that I give to those who give inspiration or special effort to assist the UPD or our community with,” Lingrell said. “On it is the inscription – John 15:13: ‘greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his brother.’ Brian has done his time serving others as an Urbana Police Officer, and has always been willing to sacrifice for the well-being of others. For that character, I’ll be forever grateful to have worked with him. On behalf of the Urbana Police Division, both past and present, it is my honor and privilege to say thank you to Officer Brian Cordial for a career well done.”
Retirement impact on division staffing
Speaking on how the two retirements affect the division’s staffing, Lingrell said the division has 17 officers only because two new officers were hired this month from the last civil service testing list.
He noted one of the two new officers is currently in his first week of an 11-week field training program with the division and the other has not officially begun training with the division and is not scheduled to begin field training until August.
Lingrell added another new officer has not started with the division yet due to his need to attend a State of Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy in Columbus starting in August and running until January. Once the officer completes basic training at the academy, Lingrell said he will then have to complete an 11-week field training officer program at the Urbana Police Division.
When a .4 percent tax levy was passed in the early 1990s, Lingrell said it was used to build the current facilities Urbana Police are in now and to add four officers to the staff of 20 sworn officers at the time making for a 24-officer agency.
“Up until the city budget downfall of 2010, we were always satisfactorily staffed with between 21 and 24 officers,” Lingrell said. “Since 2010, however, we’ve never been reinforced with safe and necessary staffing as called for with the .4 percent tax monies. I’ve sounded the alarm enough times to hopefully be heard on this issue, but have yet to be successful in seeing any increase to the UPD staffing levels, which could help us to maintain a division at a safe and sufficient level, but it would also allow us to have regular outreach programs – Community Nights Out, Citizens Police Academy – that help the community to have better successes too.”
Due to low staffing levels, Lingrell said he closed the division’s Specialized Investigative Unit at the start of this year and moved everyone into the patrol unit. Additionally, Lingrell noted police have found it difficult to keep up with various community outreach efforts, and instead put all their effort almost entirely into handling the daily call volume which remains steady and now includes a higher volume than ever before of mental health, drug related or acts of violence type calls.
In addition to regular calls, Lingrell added the local community has witnessed a homicide case in four of the last five years making it difficult to manage things effectively.
“With our recent retirements coming from the early 1990s officers –who were hired with the .4 percent monies – we are losing seasoned veteran officers and replacing them with well trained, but young and inexperienced officers,” Lingrell said. “I believe this trend will continue for some time, and then hopefully we’ll experience many years without losing a vast amount of veteran officers in a short period of time.”
Lingrell said the last civil service testing gave police a list of 48 candidates to choose new officers from and they hired seven from that list although he noted one officer was not given a permanent position with the division.
He added police have just begun their next application period for a new civil service test which will be conducted this fall. Lingrell said they hope to have a large pool of candidates to work with as they strive to get the division back to safe and efficient staffing levels, which for the budget year of 2016 calls for 19 officers.
Nick Walton can be reached at 937-652-1331 Ext. 1777 or on Twitter @UDCWalton.