Greenville Police Chief Dennis L. Butts set to retire after 31 years on force


GREENVILLE — This afternoon, following more than three decades with Greenville Police Department, and 12 years as its chief, Dennis L. Butts will pass the baton to a new chief.

As Lt. Steve Strick is sworn in as Greenville’s new chief at the Greenville Municipal Building Council Chambers Thursday, Butts leaves the department with mostly good memories and few regrets.

“I just feel it’s time,” said Butts. “Thirty one years is a long time to do any one thing and I’d like to get out of law enforcement at a young enough age and I can go do something else for a few years.”

After working in the same field, and at the same agency, for so many years, change naturally happens. Butts said the most drastic change he’s seen is the improvements in technology now at the officers’ disposal, with the computer allowing information to flow freely between agencies.

“Technology is the biggest change that I’ve seen in the 31 years I’ve been in law enforcement,” he said. “When I first started, we had radios in the cars with three channels, the computer was unthought of.”

“High-tech then was carbon paper,” added Butts, with a laugh. “If you had a brand-new piece of carbon paper as a young patrol officer, it was coveted.”

As technology has changed, so too have the job duties of patrol officers, he believes.

“I think now you have to be more community oriented in your job performance,” he said. “Back in the day, you went out and you wrote tickets, and that’s what you did. I think now, you have to be more inclined to help people mediate issues. We encourage that among our officers to get out and interact with the community members, and be friendly.”

Butts admitted he will miss his staff and coworkers.

“We’re a close-knit department up here,” he said. “I’m not going to miss the job, per se. It’s going to be nice to sit back and relax and not worry about the phone ringing in the middle of the night and especially worrying about what’s going on out in the community.”

One nagging regret he will take with him is a case which remains unsolved — the double homicide of Kim Stephan and Dennis Young, who were found shot to death in a home on Chippewa Drive in Greenville, February 23, 1997.

“I was a patrol officer when that occurred,” he said. “I became involved in that investigation. We continued to look into leads, pursue different avenues. I would certainly have loved to see that brought to a conclusion during my tenure as chief. I’m positive members of the department will carry on after I leave in an attempt to solve that. It’s probably something we think about daily.”

One ongoing issue the new chief will have to confront is a heroin epidemic, affecting not only The Treaty City, but cities, towns and villages nationwide.

“It’s everywhere,” Butts said. “It looks bad, but we don’t have heroin in a vast majority of the city. It’s an extremely small minority, but unfortunately it’s a very problematic minority because of the horrible effects of the drug and the deaths involved.”

Butts, however, feels Strick, with the help of the staff in place, can effectively handle this issue, and others, and the transition will be largely seamless.

“I think Steve will do a fantastic job as chief,” he said, adding, “We have a great city here. We have a lot of really good people. We have a very dedicated group of individuals at the police department that do their best to keep problems out of the city. If it weren’t for their efforts and their dedication to duty, I think the City of Greenville would be in a lot worse shape than it is today.”

“From the administrative staff to the detective section to the communications center to the guys on the road — everybody does a great job, and I’m sure that will carry on in my absence.”

After the new chief is sworn in, Butts said he and his wife Lynne plan to stay in Greenville, at least for the time being.

“We don’t have any immediate plans to take off, but eventually what we’d like to do is pack the camper and go on a trip across America,” he said.

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Greenville Police Chief Dennis L. Butts is leaving the department after serving 31 years on the force, 12 years as its chief. He is optimistic for his successor, Lt. Steve Strick, and the remaining staff and officers. Police Chief Dennis L. Butts is leaving the department after serving 31 years on the force, 12 years as its chief. He is optimistic for his successor, Lt. Steve Strick, and the remaining staff and officers. Erik Martin | The Daily Advocate

By Erik Martin

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The writer may be reached at 937-569-4314. Join the conversation and get updates on Facebook search Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to

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