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YOUNGSTOWN POLICE Chief: Stick to the code



Published: Wed, February 12, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



The use of personal cell phones is prohibited for certain YPD workers.

By PATRICIA MEADE

VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Police Chief Robert E. Bush Jr. wants his officers to leave their gadgets -- TVs, CDs, DVDs, radios and laptop computers -- at home.

He's also thought ahead by saying "any future technology, at this time unforeseen," cannot be used at work without his prior approval.

Memos went to department commanders this past week.

Aside from banning personal electronic devices at work, the chief has issued an order that reinforces Youngstown Police Department rules governing how his officers look on the job. The dress code deals with facial hair, facial jewelry (simply put, don't wear any) and uniforms.

Bush has also told employees assigned to the police desk, index, 911 center, record room and other clerical-type work that they must keep their personal cell phones turned off during their shifts.

Cell phones, the chief said, reflect society, but he doesn't want their use to become a "social event." City phones can be used in an emergency, he said.

Officers in cruisers who have personal cell phones often use them to check in downtown when asked to call, said Lt. Robin Lees, YPD spokesman. It saves them from leaving their area to find a pay phone, he said.

Very few officers have YPD-issued cell phones, Lees said.

Bush, meanwhile, said it was brought to his attention that electronic devices, such as CDs or DVDs, might be going out in cruisers or were at other work stations and possibly causing a distraction.

"There were no documented incidents, but if it was occurring, I wanted to nip it in the bud," Bush said. "It could easily be abused if electronic devices were allowed."

Lees called the memos pre-emptive, a way for the chief to "get out in front of it."

Volume of calls

The chief doesn't want officers, during lag time, sitting in cruisers using their personal electronic devices when they could be doing preventive patrolling, Lees said. Because of the call volume, they don't have a lot of spare time between calls for service, he said.

As of Friday, more than 8,400 calls for service had been logged this year.

When it comes to facial hair, only neat mustaches (not grown beyond the corners of the mouth) are permitted.

No beards, goatees or "imperials" can be grown. An imperials is hair grown to a point on the chin.

Some officers have been seen wearing what has been described as "soul patches" -- hair grown under the lower lip. They have to go, Lees said.

Bush said it is up to department commanders to enforce dress codes.

No facial jewelry is allowed, for safety reasons. Lees said this includes nose studs, tongue studs and earrings.

What about facial tattoos? "We haven't been confronted with them as far as I know," he said.

Lees said the dress code ensures that officers are easily identifiable as police. "We don't want anyone thinking we're someone else."

If officers wear headgear, the department standard is solid cloth hats for winter and blue mesh for summer.

Wool stocking caps are not permitted, Lees said.

When the temperature dips below 25 degrees, officers can wear navy blue pile-lined hats with ear flaps. Neck scarves can be worn when the temperature hits 32.

What if someone is cold at 34 degrees? Lees chuckled and said the department could allow for a wind-chill factor.

meade@vindy.com




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