SHAWNEE TOWNSHIP — Robert Coley always wanted to be a police officer.

From visiting his schools in the Shawnee area to television shows featuring law enforcement, Coley said he was always “led down a path” of service to his community. That’s why he’s been in law enforcement since 2002, when he became a patrol officer before being promoted to sergeant in 2012. He was sworn in as chief on Tuesday.

Kohli said he wasn’t sure at first if he wanted to try to take over as manager after Michael Keith’s retirement, but after thinking about it, decided he had to go for it.

“I’ve seen the quality of staff (in the department) and the level of service that not only our community expects, but other members of this department as well,” Coley said. “When you have an opportunity for somebody else to maybe step in — maybe even from the outside — and maybe change what we’re used to and what I, as a township resident, expect in terms of service, I felt like I needed to protect it and make sure it stays the way it was.’

But Kohli said that not everything will remain the same under his leadership.

Coley has already begun the process of incorporating the technology into police vehicles, and he and other department officials are evaluating the benefits of an electronic citation system over a pen-on-paper system.

“[It will] allows them to have a safer interaction at bus stops and to have more opportunities to pay attention to a potential threat or danger that they would have missed if they were writing on a piece of paper,” Kohli said.

Trustee Clark Spieles, who voted for Coley, said this commitment to technology sets him apart from other candidates for the position. He said Coley is always looking for ways to use technology to improve the department’s policing.

Spiles said he also likes Coley’s community engagement and willingness to help other communities in their policing efforts.

Coley is a coordinator for the Ohio Department of Public Safety and has traveled the country to teach prosecutors, judges and police about the pharmacology and physiology of drugs, especially to help officers evaluate people under the influence of drugs. Coley said he mostly travels around Ohio for these classes and uses his vacation time to host them.

While he will have less time to teach as superintendent, Coley said he plans to maintain his role as coordinator and direct resources to where they are needed.

“Obviously throughout my career I’ve been very passionate about the application of OVI and it saves lives,” Coley said. “When you do this job for a long time and see what a crime like this can do to families and people, especially when it results in death – if that doesn’t give you a fire to prevent it from happening again, nothing will.”

Coley said he has an “open door policy” for anyone in the community who wants to voice their concerns or what changes they’d like to see in the department.

That policy makes Kohli “a real community person,” Spieles said, adding, “He’s really a diamond in the rough in our department.”

Contact Jessica Orozco at 564-242-0398 or on Twitter @JessicaCOrozco.