YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — At first, Dave Wilson had to move because he couldn’t find a job in law enforcement in the Mahoning Valley.
But after he got that job and moved back, he stayed for 34 years.
Wilson, 64, retired Wednesday from the Youngstown Police Department after a career that began with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office in Phoenix.
He ended a career where he worked several different jobs, including patrol, community police, a negotiator for the Mahoning Valley Crisis Response Team and as part of a unit that helped crack down on drug crimes during the 1990s.
Wilson, a Lowellville High School graduate, says he looked for a job in law enforcement here but could not find one, so, during a trip out west, he applied and was accepted with the sheriff’s office in Maricopa County.
He had a job transporting prisoners but still missed the area because of his family, so on a trip back to visit, he took a civil service test for the city police department and passed.
A father of two and a grandfather of five, Wilson, who has been married to his wife Betsy for over 30 years, said he wanted to come back because family is important and he wanted to be close to his family.
“All my family is here, and I’m very family-oriented,” Wilson said.
Wilson said his number-one mantra on being a police officer is “Do unto others.” He said being a cop is all about treating other people the way you want to be treated.
“Treat people decently, and they’ll treat you decently,” Wilson said.
That is also important in his role as a negotiator, which Wilson did for 28 years. He said in those situations, he is already sympathetic, willing to let the other person and tell their story, but at the same time, is honest with them about their fate.
“You have to know how to talk to people,” Wilson said. “I try to help them out and just tell them the truth.”
Chief Robin Lees credited Wilson for his work on the CRT team, saying he is a one-time crisis intervention officer of the year.
An officer like Wilson is a good one for younger officers to emulate, Lees said.
“Dave always distinguished himself with his work ethic,” Lees said.
Wilson said the biggest difference in policing since he began his career is the that training officers receive. He said the mandatory training has more than doubled since he became a police officer.
Wilson said he plans to travel with his wife, who is a school nurse, during his retirement and spend more time with his family.
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