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West Chester hires two new police captains

Bruce Hoffbauer (left) and Seth Hagaman (right)
Bruce Hoffbauer (left) and Seth Hagaman (right)(Provided by West Chester Township)
Published: Aug. 13, 2021 at 11:18 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 13, 2021 at 11:20 AM EDT
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BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio (WXIX) - West Chester Police Department hired two seasoned law enforcement veterans as captains and swore them in this week.

They are:

  • Bruce Hoffbauer: Retired 34-year veteran lieutenant at Cincinnati Police Department. He ran for Hamilton County sheriff and lost last fall to Charmaine McGuffey.
  • Seth Hagaman: Senior special agent with the Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI); Deputy Director of the Southwestern Ohio Violent Crime Task Force. He also is a former West Chester police officer (1998 to 1999 and again 2011 to 2013).

The new captains will begin work on Monday, Aug. 16 and earn a bi-weekly rate of $4,434.35, or about $115,000 annually.

The West Chester Police Department command staff is made up of the chief, assistant chief and two captains.

Hoffbauer and Hagaman will join a department rocked over the past year by allegations between Chief Joel Herzog and his two hand-picked captains who rose through the ranks with him. Four other members of the department also filed complaints about the chief, last summer.

The former captains, Jamie Hensley and Joe Gutman, quit about six months apart last year and have since sued the township, police department, the chief, township trustees, and others.

Hensley and Gutman allege retaliation and defamation and claim they were forced to resign after filing complaints about the chief.

Herzog recommended that the township trustees hire Hoffbauer and Hagaman, the township said in a news release.

“Each brings a great deal of law enforcement experience from two distinct perspectives,” the chief said in the prepared statement. “I expect each to bring great ideas and energy to the Township overall and our law enforcement team.”

Hagaman first worked for the West Chester Township Police Department in 1998.

Since that time his career has taken dramatic turns working high-profile cases with the CIA and, more recently, with BCI.

“I’ve been around the world and have seen a great deal,” Hagaman said in the township’s prepared statement. “I am thrilled to now bring what I have learned back to the community where I live and raise my family.”

A career opportunity for his wife took them to Washington D.C. in 1999 where he began a very different kind of career in law enforcement. He spent the next decade or so of his career working as a special agent with U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations and department chief of operations with the Central Intelligence Agency.

He led crime scene investigations of Al Qaida facilities in Afghanistan, provided program management of global terrorism operations for the U.S. Air Force, and worked diplomatically to address complex issues of international significance.

He and his wife have three sons and one daughter. The oldest son is a Lakota graduate and is now a student at the University of Cincinnati. The other three children are current students at Lakota West High School

“We always knew we wanted to get back to West Chester to raise our family and be close to grandparents,” Hagaman said.

Making the move back to West Chester in 2011 to raise their family, Hagaman spent two years with the West Chester Police Department as an officer, leaving due to concerns of potential layoffs in 2013.

“Being able to make a difference in the community where I live means a great deal to me,” Hagaman said. “I really can’t wait to get started.”

He will start his work by learning from veteran command staff and listening to the men and women of the department, the township’s statement reads.

“There is a lot of stress in law enforcement and I hope to help offer motivation and support to those who serve the community,” Hagaman said. “I’ve reluctantly left the West Chester Police Department twice in my career and am genuinely excited about this opportunity to return to an organization that I’ve cared about since I was a young man.”

Hoffbauer was born and raised in Delhi Township and has lived his entire life in the Cincinnati area.

He retired from CPD after more than three decades in March 2020 and now looks forward to helping to lead the West Chester Police Department, according to the township.

“I still have so much to offer and can’t wait to share my experience with the men and women of the West Chester Police Department.”

Law enforcement is a family business for Hoffbauer. His father, wife and daughter all served or are currently serving the community through local police work. He and his wife also have a son who is a Cincinnati firefighter, in addition to a daughter who lives out of state with her husband, daughter and another one on the way.

Hoffbauer began his career in 1985 with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office where he served as a corrections deputy.

In 1987 he joined the Cincinnati Police Department as an officer and worked up the ranks to lieutenant.

For 18 years of his career, Hoffbauer commanded numerous units including Night Chief with commanding authority over the department during the overnight hours putting him in charge of hundreds of critical incidents including shootings, homicide scenes, fatal crashes, SWAT and hostage situations and much more.

Hoffbauer believes in building community trust of law enforcement through friendly interactions.

“West Chester already has a premier agency with so much to offer,” Hoffbauer said. “This really is a full-service department with all the tools needed to do the work and a community that values its police department. I will learn so much from West Chester and West Chester can also learn from me.”

In his early days on the job in West Chester, Hoffbauer looks forward to getting to know the men and women who work for West Chester Police and letting them get to know him.

“He is prepared to immerse himself in the job and the community and looks forward to be a good leader for the Township,” the township’s statement reads.

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