By JoANNE VIVIANO
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Robert Bush Jr. remembers the days when he patrolled the city's streets.
"It never leaves your system," said Bush. "I've always had interest in police work. ... I loved it in February of '71 when I first came on and I still love police work."
Bush, who has served as law director since 1998, was appointed police chief Friday by Mayor George M. McKelvey, replacing Richard Lewis, who retired Friday.
Bush was a patrolman and detective from 1971 to 1977, serving in the juvenile division and as a narcotics officer and investigator.
Since then, he has served in many other positions, including law director and assistant county prosecutor, but he's pleased to have the opportunity the be chief in a city such as Youngstown.
"I hope to continue the professionalism and the achievements that were put in place by Chief Lewis and others," Bush said. "I think we do policing well, as good as anyone in the state. I hope to lead the department on to the future.
"... I know it's going to be a trying task. I have the support of my family and wife through all these years and they support me on this as well."
Goals: Bush said some initiatives he hopes to continue are: pushing to get computers in cruisers; aggressive efforts to deal with bars that have become nuisances and work to reduce serious crimes, particularly homicides.
He said he also hopes to enhance the department's use of computerized information, which he said are not tapped into as much as they should be. Such sources, he said, can be used to track crime trends and retrieve other needed information.
As chief, Bush will be paid $68,500 annually, comparable to what he made as law director.
The new chief said that his minority status will have some effect on the city but that he believes good policing, not skin color, is what matters.
"Obviously, it's going to have some meaning that an African-American has been appointed chief, but ... what people want is good policing; they want cruiser response; they want professionalism," Bush said.
"That's what they want and that's what I'm going to strive for."