PDT Staff Writer
While the Portsmouth Police Department is slowly expanding, it is still, according to the City Charter, still understaffed. But Portsmouth Police Chief Robert Ware says his officers are “doing a great job holding up their commitment to get out there to do what they need to do to combat the crime and the traffic issues with the resources that we have.”
On Monday, Portsmouth Mayor David Malone conducted a new police officer swearing-in ceremony. Taking their oaths of office on the front steps of the Portsmouth Municipal Building were Jacob Newman and Corey Fischer.
Newman is the son of John and Cindy Newman. After graduating from Portsmouth West High School he joined the Army, where he did a tour of duty in Afghanistan. Newman, who resides in Portsmouth with his wife and two children, received his police training from the Southern Ohio Police Academy.
Fischer is the son of Gary and Susan Fischer. After graduating high school from Cedarville High School he attended Shawnee State University where he obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree in Sports Management. Fischer also received his police training from the Southern Ohio Police Academy. Fischer and his wife reside in Piketon.
Ware made a budget modification before City Council earlier in the year where the agreement was that he could hire one officer at the end of the first quarter, one at the end of the second quarter, and one at the end of the third quarter. The two that were sworn in Monday represent two-thirds of this year’s hiring plan. With that, the city remains two officers and a records clerk short.
“Hopefully that puts us into 2014 when we can hire the other two that we need,” Ware said.
People in the community are seeing a higher profile police department in recent months, and that has translated into an increase in citations. According to Portsmouth Solicitor John Haas, traffic citations which resulted in court cases are up from 383 in 2012 to 1,290 for the same period in 2013. Haas said the fines collected rose from $7,759 in 2012 to $20,535. Haas said the number of citations (a citation may have more than one offense) written in in 2012 were 4,123 and in 2013 that number is 5,480. Haas said the increase is obviously the City of Portsmouth doing more enforcement.
Ware said he has probably received a dozen phone calls from acquaintances who have told him, “Rob, I got a speeding ticket, what do I do?”
“My knee-jerk response is, slow the heck down,” Ware said. “But even then, some of the ones who complain are saying, ‘I’m glad you’re out there. I like it when I drive through that I see you,’ and then the other probably 95 percent of the responses that I get are all positive.”
Recently officers were involved in a chase through city streets which resulted in a crash. One might assume the response by those who witnessed the incident would be negative. Not true, Ware said.
“Even within that crowd, there were people giving us a thumbs-up,” he said.
Ware said before assuming normal patrol duties, both Fischer and Newman will begin a period of on the job training through the Portsmouth Police Departments Field Training Program.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at email@example.com. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.