Jasper’s Assistant Chief of Police Nathan Schmitt has been chosen to take over the helm of the department as it continues to recover from the untimely loss of its chief in August.
Schmitt, 44, acknowledged that he never imagined these would be the circumstances under which the opportunity would occur but after careful consideration, he decided to accept the position. “We thought the world of Chief Bennett and obviously, if I could rewind it back two weeks from today, I would be fine,” he explained about his term as assistant chief of police.
Schmitt said Bennett’s work with the department since being appointed in 2012 has left it on a good trajectory.
Growing up, Schmitt knew Bennett through his father, former mayor Bill Schmitt also served as the city’s head police officer. He said Bennett’s extensive background in law enforcement and leadership will be missed in the department.
“I’m not going to try and fill his shoes, I don’t even know if I can,” Schmitt admitted. “But hopefully my shoes will be as good as his.”
Nathan’s father’s law enforcement background had an undeniable impact on him as well as two of his three brothers. While his oldest brother Jason works locally for SVB&T, Todd the second oldest is a member of the FBI stationed in Chicago and the next in line, Luke is an Indianapolis Metro Police Officer assigned to horse patrol. Nathan is the youngest of the four.
“We saw all the great things dad did as a police officer,” Schmitt said. “We knew we weren’t going to be rich and live in a big house, but we knew we could help people and be in a very gratifying job.”
Schmitt graduated from Jasper High School in 1991 and received an associate’s degree in law enforcement from Vincennes University before graduating from the Indiana University Police Academy. He began his career as an IUPUI Campus Police Officer as well as a Lafayette Police Officer before returning to Jasper to work for the Jasper Police Department in 2001.
In 2006, he was promoted to sergeant and in 2009, was promoted to the assistant chief’s position. In regards to his movement through the ranks and the new appointment, Schmitt is humble. “It’s not what I set out to do, but the opportunity presented itself,” he said.
“When I make a decision, I am going to think about Chief Bennett a lot,” he added.
Mayor Terry Seitz said the decision was hard for him to make in the wake of Bennett’s August 25 death but necessary.
“Over the course of the last week, I sought input from the senior officers in the Jasper Police Department,” said Seitz. “These conversations and others confirmed that Chief Bennett left a very strong organization. Obviously, as his second –in-command, Nathan played a key role in the development of the force and he was a natural choice to become the new chief.
The mayor said he and Schmitt would be meeting to make a decision on a new assistant chief but Seitz said he felt he had several well-qualified candidates to choose from.
Schmitt took the oath of office Tuesday morning at the Jasper Board of Public Works and Safety meeting with his wife Allison and three children—William, Anna and Lila—present. He began his duties immediately afterward.
His first request to the board of public works; to retire Chief Bennett’s service handgun. The Glock 9mm will be presented to Bennett’s family.