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Focus on Fostoria - Feb0605

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Chief Hobbs surveys community involvement
By LEONARD SKONECKI
Focus Correspondent Feb. 6. 2005

What do you think? Acting Fostoria Police Chief Phil Hobbs wants to know.

Today’s Focus contains a survey Hobbs is asking Fostorians to complete and return to him.
Hobbs says, “The purpose of the survey is to determine how the Fostoria Police Department could more efficiently serve all the people of the community.”

The survey is one of three ideas he is working on to increase community awareness of and involvement in the PD.

“I got this idea because many police departments do surveys,” said Hobbs. “Some police departments do a survey annually.”

The survey costs taxpayers nothing. Quality Printing & Graphics, WFOB, Roppe Corp., Fostoria Industries, Reineke Ford, Moes Body Shop, Reinhart Auto Body, Mann-Hare Funeral Home, Fostoria Economic Development Corp., Fostoria Chamber of Commerce and Wise Realty are picking up the tab.
Hobbs realizes that not every response will be complimentary.

“We’ll get some good ones and we’ll get some bad ones. I’m just trying to open up communication with the public. I want to get an idea of their comments and feelings about this police department.”
Hobbs said that anyone who wishes to make additional comments can do so. Persons who want to include their name can do that, too. He emphasized that the survey responses will be kept strictly confidential.

“I’m looking for comments beyond the survey. I want to get a feel for what the citizens think are the concerns. We have trouble areas and we will devote as much effort as we can to dealing with them.”
Hobbs has other ideas, too.

One is a “citizen academy,” a program to acquaint people with real police work.

“Citizen academies are taking off all over. Too many people don’t understand what we do, how we do it and why we do it.

“Too many people get their idea of police work from crime shows. The citizen academy is a way to get the community involved in the police department.”

The academy’s participants will learn the legal requirements and procedures governing arrests, search and seizure, booking, dispatching, the SWAT unit and civil liability.

Another idea he intends to put into practice is a “Ride-A-Long Program” where citizens can ride with officers on patrol and observe as they perform their duties.

Hobbs said, “Once again, the idea is to open up communication with the citizens. We hope they will come away with a better understanding of the challenges we face and the rewards we get.”

Those eligible to participate in the Ride-A-Long program include citizens over the age of 21, police officers from other jurisdictions, local government officials, other persons working in the criminal justice system or any other person approved by him.

Persons wanting to ride along must sign a waiver of liability, agree to a set of conditions, and fill out a comment form after the ride is finished.

In addition to those programs, Hobbs is establishing an Awards Program for Fostoria police officers.
He said, “The Awards Program will recognize and honor meritorious service and conduct by members of the Fostoria Police Department.”

Nominations will be accepted from fellow officers or members of the public. The department’s policies and procedures make provision for an awards program though the force hasn’t had one.
He continued, “I want to see this used in the FPD.”

There are a number of awards that could be given annually — Medal of Ultimate Sacrifice, Medal of Honor, Medal of Valor, Commendation, Chief’s Award, Combat Award, Purple Heart, Safe Driving Award, Longevity Award, Life Saving Award, Community Service Award.

The awards committee will include Hobbs, a command officer, patrol officer, one representative from each veterans organization (the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Vietnam Veterans of America, American Legion and Amvets), four citizen representatives, plus an alternate.

Hobbs wants to dovetail this with another recognition program called “Catch A Cop Doing Something Right.”

This doesn’t have to be for anything dramatic, but Hobbs would like to hear when citizens have something positive to say about the police department.

“It’s easy to sit back and criticize someone. But this is a chance for an officer to get an ‘atta, boy’ or ‘atta, girl’ for the work they do.”

All of these programs are aimed at one overall goal.

“To restore the community’s faith in the police department is my number one priority. When I leave, I want the department to be better than when I began this job. We have lots of good officers.”
It’s the number of officers that has Hobbs concerned.

“My big concern is manpower. When I came in the city asked all the departments to make a 10 percent budget cut.”

That amounts to over $230,000 for the PD. A cut that large can only come from personnel.

However, Officer Scott Hofacker has taken early retirement and Officer Matt Jankowski is relocating so that will help avoid layoffs.

“But we’re going to work our way out of this,” said Hobbs. “It will just take time.”

So far, he is pleased with his start on the job.

“Things are going quite well actually. I’m working closely with Ralph (Wise, safety service director).”
In fact, Hobbs and the safety service director went to Columbus together to attend the funeral of an officer killed in the line of duty. Over 750 cruisers made up to procession to the cemetery.

Hobbs said, “As we drove to the cemetery there were people standing along the route. Some saluted. Some placed their hand over their heart. That got to me. People do care.”

Hobbs has a lot of new irons in the fire. Will all of them bear fruit? That question doesn’t bother him too much. He has a quotation of Theodore Roosevelt on his desk. It’s called “The Man In The Arena.”
“It’s not the critic who counts, not the one who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who actually does strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

(The Focus urges everyone to take the time to respond to Hobbs’ survey. It is a good way to support our local police.)


 

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