YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Youngstown police Chief Robin Lees Tuesday said it will be a while before the seven new officers sworn in this week will begin to make an impact on the streets.
But still, Lees said he was glad to have them and he expects to add 10 to 12 officers next year.
They will join an officer who left the department earlier this year but recently returned and two more officers who left earlier this year but are expected to be back on the job January 1.
Sworn in Tuesday were Bernard Fronzaglio, a part-time officer with Hubbard police; Tyra Grant, who will now be attending the Ohio Peace Officers Training Academy; Alex Wharry, who comes from Springfield police; James Shirlla, who was an officer with the Mill Creek MetroParks Police Department; David Garcia, who worked for the Wellsville Police Department; and Deon Gilbert, who was a part-time officer in Cortland.
Thomas Fetherolf, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, will be sworn in on Friday. He is currently wrapping up at the academy but could not attend Tuesday.
The city has faced an exodus of patrol officers over the last two years due to retirements and several officers leaving for what they perceive as a low starting salary and the time it takes to achieve the maximum salary. City council did earlier this year agree to a raise for starting patrol officers and also decreased the time it takes to achieve maximum salary.
Because so many officers left, Lees had to take officers from other units, such as the Crime Lab and Community Police Unit to augment the Patrol Division. Once the officers have completed their training with their Field Training Officers, which takes a minimum of four months, they will be assigned beats of their own and those officers who were moved to patrol can move back to their former duties, Lees said.
Lees also said having more officers will help cut down on overtime as several times a week other officers work over to help fill out a shift.
He said he expects to add 10 to 12 more officers to the Patrol Division next year.
Mayor Jamael Tito Brown congratulated the new hires and told them they follow a tradition of others who served, several of them at the ceremony in City Council Chambers to watch others follow in their footsteps.
“Many great people have passed through the same process you’re going through,” the mayor said.
Brown also urged the new hires to learn all they can during their training.
“Don’t be shy about asking questions,” Brown said.
The mayor also swore in two new members of the department’s Chaplin Corps, the Rev. Duane A. Jesse, pastor of Zion Lutheran Church and the Rev. Joseph Boyd, pastor of the First Unitarian Church of Youngstown.