Alumnus named chief city prosecutor after years of dedicated service to Columbus
By: Kelsey Givens
After more than 20 years of service at the Columbus City Attorney’s Office, Bill Hedrick ‘96 has been asked to serve as the city’s next chief prosecutor under newly elected City Attorney Zach Klein. The promotion is a nod to Hedrick’s outstanding work over the years helping to find solutions to everyday problems faced by the city’s residents.
“One of the most rewarding things about my job now would be mentoring our young staff and helping them with their careers and to embolden them to be as excited about their jobs as I was about mine when I first started here,” Hedrick said. “I still enjoy the day-to-day business of helping people too. Most of the people we deal with aren’t bad people; they’ve just made some bad choices…One of the things we want to do is not just to prosecute the cases before us, but we want to ask what brought the people here to begin with and is there anything we can do to try and get them out of the system.”
In his role as chief prosecutor, Hedrick manages the day-to-day operations of the office, scheduling staff, helping his prosecutors find solutions to tough cases, and serving as the face of the office for defense attorneys and the public. He also sits in on city management meetings for the city attorney to give feedback on decisions about how to assess different policies.
“Are there certain types of crime you want to divert, are there certain types of crime we should handle in one way or another? Those are some of the things that the chief prosecutor does. It’s primarily a management position,” he said.
Prior to starting this new position at the beginning of January, Hedrick served as chief of staff and assistant chief prosecutor for the city attorney’s office. He started there in 1994 while he was still in law school as a mediator before working his way up to be the intake officer and then soon after graduation, prosecutor.
Over the course of his career with the city attorney’s office Hedrick has tried a number of high-profile cases, some of which garnered national attention.
Among his most memorable cases is that of Stuart Kaplow, a landlord who owned properties near The Ohio State University campus and was found guilty of allowing his buildings to lapse into disrepair. Hedrick led the prosecution for the case at the end of which Kaplow was sentenced to live in one of his rental properties until all of his Columbus properties were able to pass inspection by the city. Another case involved what is considered to possibly be one of the first animal serial-killers in the country. Maureen McLaughlin told animal welfare investigators that she had killed more than 600 animals over the course of five years. Unfortunately at the time, she could only be charged with misdemeanors for the offense, highlighting the need for stronger animal cruelty laws, Hedrick explained.
“When I was in the courtroom as the environmental prosecutor, I did a lot of work with animal cruelty. I don’t enjoy animal cruelty, but I enjoy trying to bring those people to justice,” he said.
In 2014 Hedrick was awarded the Justice League of Ohio’s Prosecutorial Model of Justice Award for his “commitment and contributions to providing a voice for crime victims, especially some of the most vulnerable members of our community, including protecting animals from abuse and neglect.”
Reflecting on where his career has taken him and his new position, Hedrick said he has enjoyed his time at the city attorney’s office and looks forward to the new challenges he’ll face as chief prosecutor.
“It’s a fun place to work and everyone here works well together. I’ve been able to do a great variety of work, a lot of which most people wouldn’t be able to do in an office like this,” he said. “I’m very grateful that I’ve found a place where I’ve enjoyed working and I’ve maintained my career.”