Served: 5 years
August 19, 1973 to October 4, 1976 Cincinnati Police Division
October 1976 to August 1978, Jewish Hospital Security
August 9, 1978 to October 25, 1978, Delhi Township Police Department
John was born June 3, 1955 to William B. and Alberta “Bert” (Geis) Bechtol. He attended St. Dominic Grade School and graduated from Oak Hills High School during June 1973. During his senior year, he worked at night at Bonanza Steakhouse. John played football, basketball, and softball and enjoyed fishing, hunting, and camping, but most of all he wanted to be a Cincinnati Police Officer.
Two months after his high school graduation, at the age of 18, John joined the Cincinnati Police Division as a Police Cadet. He began his chosen career in an exemplary manner. Cadets were then assigned to various assignments every six months. In his first assignment, Records Section, he earned a 90% efficiency rating. His next assignment was a preferred one at Training Section. He also served in Criminalistics Section. He consistently earned performance ratings between 90% and 95%. Many employees went their entire careers without a rating above 85%. He was a rising star, Vice President of his Class, and 21 years old when his Cadet Class entered their Recruit Training phase in 1976.
But, the City of Cincinnati was having financial difficulties; such that if a tax levy was defeated, hundreds of employees would be laid off. For John’s Cadet Class, they did not wait for the tax levy vote in November. All 47 were promoted to Police Officer on October 3, 1976 and all laid off on October 4. The levy was defeated and another 124 police officers were laid off December 6, 1976.
Officer Bechtol found employment with Jewish Hospital Security. There, he met and later married Barbara A. Holbrook during June 1978. Then Delhi Township Police Department hired him during August 1978 and he moved his family to 4433 Glenhaven Road in Delhi Township. Once again, he was flourishing in his new career.
On October 25, 1978, Officer Bechtol was responding east on Delhi Pike to an incident involving a mentally ill person on Rosemont. He and another cruiser behind him were responding with their blue lights and sirens. Immediately behind him was another cruiser, driven by Officer Thomas Lanter, with lights and siren on.
At 5:18 p.m. David Allen Tipton (22) with two passengers, Sandy Sparks (17) and David Morris (23), was southbound on Petretti, went through a red light, and struck Officer Bechtol’s cruiser broadside at the intersection. Officer Bechtol was thrown from the vehicle and killed in the crash. He is the only Delhi Township law enforcement officer to die in the line of duty.
Officer Bechtol was survived by his wife of three months; a 4-year-old stepson, Shane; his parents; and his siblings, Michael Bechtol, Mary Helen Bechtol, and Teresa Huth. Visitation was held at the Vitt and Stermer Funeral Home, 4619 Delhi Pike. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at St. Dominic Church. He was buried at St. Joseph (New) Cemetery on October 28, 1978.
Tipton was arrested for probation violation from a 1975 Theft conviction and charged with Failure to Yield to the Right of Way to a Public Safety Vehicle and Vehicular Homicide. On Monday, October 30, 1978, Tipton pleaded not guilty to the charges. On Monday, November 13, Assistant Hamilton County Prosecutor Stew Mathews prosecuted the case and Thomas Amann defended Tipton in the trial presided over by Judge Ralph Winkler. The jury, on Wednesday, November 15, 1978 returned a guilty verdict. In large part due to Tipton’s previous eleven traffic convictions in four years, Judge Winkler on December 15, 1978 sentenced Tipton to jail for the maximum six months, suspended his driver’s license for three years, and placed him on three years’ probation.
On January 2, 1979, Judge Winkler suspended the balance of Tipton’s jail sentence. On the same day, Judge Thomas C. Nurre sentenced him to six more months in the Workhouse for the Probation Violation from the 1975 Theft conviction.
Tipton appealed the homicide case based on an allegation of improper procedure on the part of Judge Winkler. On November 28, 1979 the Hamilton County Court of Appeals upheld the conviction. Tipton apparently continues to drive poorly being convicted of Driving Under a Finance Responsibility Act Suspension during 2013.
If anyone has any information, artifact, or image regarding this officer or incident, please contacts the Greater Cincinnati Police Museum at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This narrative was revised October 24, 2014 by Cincinnati Lieutenant Stephen R. Kramer (Retired), Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society President, based largely on research conducted by Cincinnati Homicide Detective Edward Zieverink (Retired), Greater Cincinnati Police Museum Historian. All rights are reserved to them and the Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society.