As a direct result of the passage of the city income tax levy last May, the Washington C.H. Police Department recently hired two new patrol officers.
Logan George will head to the Ohio State Highway Patrol Police Academy on Monday and is scheduled to graduate on June 24. Trent Curl will temporarily work as a dispatcher, beginning Feb 12, until he heads to the police academy on Aug. 15. Curl is temporarily filling the role of Parma Dawson, who retired on Dec. 31.
“Once again, thank you to the public for passing the tax levy, which allowed us to do this,” said WPD Police Chief Brian Hottinger. “It has allowed us to beef our numbers back up and go from 18 patrolmen to 20. We really hadn’t anticipated replacing people just yet. But the tax levy enables us to add more officers that we said we were going to add and still replace people who are leaving.”
The passage of the levy effectively raised the income tax by .5 percent beginning in January 2016. It’s set up to generate more needed funds that will go toward restoring employment levels for both the police and fire departments, as well as the street department and efforts to beautify the downtown.
Although the police department is beginning to see benefits of the levy come to fruition, it’s still a time of transition within the force.
“Two weeks ago, we did a dispatcher’s test…we have results back and we’re currently doing background investigations on the top 10,” said Hottinger. “Once we get those done, we’ll be hiring a permanent dispatcher to help fill another void. Probably in another two to three months, we’ll be hiring another dispatcher to fill the hole of someone who is transferring.”
Also, longtime officer Sgt. Shannon Long recently announced that he is retiring after 22-and-a-half years of service. “We thank Sergeant Long for his service and wish him well,” said Hottinger. “I got approval from the city manager to fill that position as well.”
Someone from within the department is expected to be promoted to Long’s position.
“We’ll be revisiting our current patrolmen list and interviewing those that we didn’t interview before,” said Hottinger. “We’ll be hiring someone out of that top 10 list mid-summer to go to the police academy with Trent Curl in August. So that’s five people in six months. I can’t remember ever hiring five people, three patrolmen and two dispatchers, in the first six months of any one year.”
The police academy training for the new officers will last approximately 18 weeks. “The State Highway Patrol is without a doubt the best police academy in the state of Ohio,” said Hottinger. “It’s nationally recognized to be a premium academy, it’s in our backyard, so why not use it?”
However, even after the academy, community members shouldn’t expect to see the new officers on the streets right away. “For example, Logan, we won’t see him until the end of June,” said Hottinger. “When he comes back here, we’re going to put him with a field training officer – one of our veterans – for a minimum of eight weeks. So it will be September 1 before he gets in a car by himself.”
Hottinger said he is pleased with the increase of 18 officers to 20, but would still like to see the department at 22 sworn officers.
“It’s better than when we were at 18,” he said. “It’s not the ideal number….in our heyday we were at 22. So that’s obviously our target to get back to 22. Realistically, given the training and the fact that people move on or retire, that will probably be a three-year project to get us up to 22. Over the course of time, 22 is a very realistic number for us. That will allow us to increase patrol, bring back certain projects, and focus on specific areas of town that require attention.”
Reach Ryan Carter at 740-313-0352 or on Twitter @rywica