MAHONING VALLEY Calls to military duty put a squeeze on police units
New schedules are being implemented as police officers are pressed into active service.
By NANCY TULLIS
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
COLUMBIANA -- Was there anything in the marriage vows about this?
Wade Boley, a Columbiana Police Department patrolman and a medic with the Ohio Army National Guard's 838th Military Police Company, spent most of the first year of his marriage with his bags packed.
He married in September 2000 and completed six months of Guard training in April 2001. Six months later, he was activated in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Boley said that since the attacks, the waiting and the uncertainty are the most difficult parts of his Guard service.
In the days before he was told to report to the Akron-Canton Airport, orders were changing so rapidly, he was receiving calls every few hours.
"I'd pack my bags one way, then they'd call back and say I was going somewhere else, and I'd have to repack," he said.
"I had to take everything because I didn't know where I'd end up. We didn't know. Our commanders didn't know because battalion didn't know. It was like that on up through the chain of command."
As it turned out, Boley spent a week of 16-hour days in October, assisting with the medical processing of fellow guard members. Boley worked from about 7 a.m. to 10 or 11 p.m. each day.
"You stay until the job's done," he said. It's exhausting."
Half of his company was assigned to Fort Bragg, N.C., for a year, and most of the other half to the Toledo area to provide airport security through at least April. Boley was one of a handful of his company sent home.
He is back on patrol in Columbiana, but could be called again.
Adjustments: Mahoning Valley law enforcement officers are adjusting to new schedules as fellow officers are called to active military service.
Officials of police and sheriffs departments in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties and the Ohio State Highway Patrol posts in Warren, Canfield and Lisbon who said they have had officers activated are handling the absences with overtime and reassignments.
Youngstown Police Chief Richard Lewis, for example, said he is able to move officers from other details such as the record room or crime lab to ensure patrol shifts are covered.
Crunch: Columbiana and Milton Township departments, however, face a staffing crunch.
Chief William Moretz of Milton Township has two officers of 10 on his roster eligible for active duty military service with the reserves or national guard. He said in such situations civic law enforcement agencies simply have to use overtime and other means to get by.
Columbiana Police Chief John Krawchyk, however, doesn't yet know how he will manage personnel if Boley, the second of two patrolmen who are members of 838th, also is deployed.
Columbiana's roster has 11 full-time officers.
Patrolman Tab Bailey is among those of the 838th assigned to a Toledo airport. After April, Bailey could be sent home, or reassigned elsewhere, Krawchyk said.
For now, Krawchyk said he's handling Bailey's absence because other patrolmen and sergeants have volunteered for extra duty. One has volunteered to work 12-hour shifts two days each week. Others come in early or remain at the end of the shift until someone is available.
"I like to keep two patrol cars on the road on all shifts, and our guys have been great about covering," Krawchyk said. "They're just that way."
He said Sgt. Jim Ewing worked a five-hour shift on a day he was scheduled off. Another officer recently volunteered to work Christmas Day so a fellow officer could be off.
Krawchyk said he may ask to hire more part-time patrolmen, but hasn't discussed that option outside the department.
XContributors: Vindicator staff writers John Goodwin and JoAnne Viviano.