The announcement wasn’t surprising, but it was still a head-shaker: Less than four months after Katherine Dolan quit as chief of the Cleveland Metroparks police force, former Rocky River Police Chief Kelly Stillman took the job.

The pair basically swapped jobs.

Follow along and you’ll see: Stillman retired from Rocky River in September 2020 to take a job as chief of police in Beachwood. Dolan quit her Metroparks job a year later to become assistant police chief in Beachwood. The park board did not replace her.

Then a little more than a year after taking the job, Stillman quit as Beachwood police chief. Dolan was named chief of Beachwood and Stillman took over as the Metorparks’ police chief.

Stillman had been chief of the Rocky River Police Department since 2011 and in law enforcement for 35 years.

Dolan worked for the Cleveland Heights Police Department from 2001 to 2008, starting off as a patrol officer and working her way up to the rank of captain.

We feel her tenure as Metroparks chief was average at best. Our main concern was the department’s unwillingness to share timely police reports with the public, which has been an ongoing problem because the public needs to know what crimes are occurring in the 21,000-acre park district. We also grow greatly concerned when all inquiries are funneled through a district spokesperson, who never returns phone calls or emails. That’s not serving the taxpayers, who have generously supported the park district for more than 100 years. But keeping incidents quiet ensures a pristine image of the Cleveland Metroparks. And if nothing else, the park district is a master at marketing itself, and car break-ins, vandalism and flashers, if they are occurring, and we don’t know, can blemish that image.

But we do know that there was a double killing on June 4, 2019, in the Rocky River Reservation when longtime friends Katherine Brown and Carnell Sledge were each shot in the head and found along the west bank of the Rocky River. Two and a half years later, the case remains unsolved. Throughout the investigation, Dolan was uncommunicative with the public, the media and even the victims’ families. We understand not releasing details that will inhibit an investigation, but complete silence serves no one but the killer(s).

To our knowledge, other than an unsolved double homicide, Dolan’s legacy is that she changed the name of the park law enforcement officers from rangers to police officers. Everyone still calls them rangers.

Both Stillman and Dolan have significant law enforcement resumes. But it’s like their working lives are as intertwined as a married couple.

Here’s what West Life learned through a public-records request. Stillman was paid $134,800 as chief of the 44-member Beachwood department, a job he held for just over a year. When he left Beachwood, the city paid him $10,929 for accumulated and unused vacation time. As Rocky River police chief, Stillman was paid $104,353 his last year. When he resigned, at age 64, Rocky River paid him $57,800 for his unused sick and vacation time.

Dolan will be paid a salary of $141,700, according to information provided by Beachwood. Cleveland Metroparks had hired Dolan in 2018 with a first-year salary of $130,000. She was the first female chief in the park system’s history.

Dolan was named Beachwood chief the day Stillman resigned, according to a Nov. 10 news release from the city. Stillman was sworn in at the Metroparks commissioners’ meeting on Nov. 18, becoming the sixth police chief in 10 years (!) for the 104-year-old park district.

We have a few requests for the new Metroparks police chief: Please release police reports daily. Or weekly. All of them. Not just the incidents about speeders and drunk drivers. And please solve that double homicide. You might want to get the public involved. Crowdsourcing can be a great tool.

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