Chief Hobbs surveys community involvement
By LEONARD SKONECKI
Focus Correspondent Feb. 6. 2005
What do you think? Acting Fostoria Police Chief Phil Hobbs wants
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
“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
“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
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
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.)