Youngstown’s outgoing police chief had long, successful career

Local News

Lees was appointed chief seven years ago by former Mayor John McNally

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Forty years is a long time. On his last day on the job, 27 First News sat down with retiring Youngstown Police Chief Robin Lees to reflect on what he leaves behind.

“I think overall, collectively, this department has done a good job. I’ve been proud to be a part of it,” Lees said.

Lees was appointed chief seven years ago by former Mayor John McNally. At that time, he’d already retired once after 33 years on the job. Among his many assignments was helping set up what would eventually become the valley’s SWAT team.

“I was part of that for about 20 years. At it evolved from a small group of us that were basically paying for our own equipment,” Lees said.

Lees said one of his goals was to set up a division focused on neighborhoods, something he tried to do years earlier.

“I was very proud of the fact that we were able to bring back the community policing as a unit itself and assigning folks to each of the council wards,” Lees said.

Lees says he’s also proud of establishing crisis intervention and mental health training programs for officers as well as expanding the city’s Community Initiative to Reduce Violence (CIRV), and increasing diversity. He said more than half of those hired during his tenure were minorities.

“Sometimes it comes down to what didn’t happen. There have been no scandals here. We have had no significant issues with the community,” Lees said.

In the end, Lees says he leaves a department his successor can build on.

Youngstown Mayor Tito Brown introduced Lees replacement Friday to the community. Carl Davis is the city’s next police chief.

Brown introduced the new chief on Friday afternoon, saying he wanted to hire someone internally. He said he believes that Davis can lead the department in the right direction.

Davis will be sworn in next week.

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