Last auxiliary force in city was short-lived


YOUNGSTOWN — An auxiliary police force revived in July 1992 with 22 officers lasted only about a year because of an arbiter’s ruling, a union official says.

On Tuesday, Mayor Jay Williams, calling the crime rate unacceptably high, told members of city council’s safety committee that he’d like to reinstate an auxiliary police force. He said bringing back an auxiliary force will be included in ongoing talks with the police unions.

Vindicator files show that in 1992 auxiliaries were paid $1 a year so they could be bonded and covered by workers’ compensation. They wore the same blue uniform (except for an “auxiliary” patch), carried guns and had full police powers. They were required to work a minimum of 16 hours each month.

The union filed a grievance shortly after the auxiliary officers were sworn in, according to newspaper files. The union president at the time questioned if auxiliaries, for $1 a year, would take the same chances as regular officers.

Other concerns were what auxiliaries would be paid if subpoenaed to court and if they had to abide by the city’s residency requirement.

In July 1992, Detective Sgt. Charles Guzzy was commander of the community policing unit and the auxiliary force. He is now secretary of Youngstown Police Ranking Officers.

He said the arbiter ruled that, because the auxiliaries were on the civil service list, the city had, in effect, hired them and had to pay them, which it did. He believes the most any of the officers received was around $5,000.

He said some had been working as much as 20 hours a week, even though only required to work 16 hours each month.

Also, the arbiter ruled that the city could have an auxiliary unit — but the officers could not perform any duties of full-time officers, Guzzy said.

“That’s when it dissolved,” he said, recalling the auxiliary force lasted about a year.

Contracts for YPRO and the Youngstown Police Association expired Dec. 1, 2006. Capt. Kenneth Centorame, YPRO president, could not be reached Thursday.

Patrolman Ed Colon, YPA president, said Thursday that he’s researching what happened the last time auxiliary officers were used. Colon said he wants to hear what the mayor has in mind before commenting.

Guzzy said that, as a union official, he wants to see exactly what the city is proposing when it comes to the use of auxiliary officers.

“We’ve already got an arbiter’s ruling — will the city ignore that?” he said.

Vindicator files show the city used auxiliary police officers in the early 1970s. When interviewed in 1992, Guzzy said the force was dissolved about five years before because it lacked supervision and wasn’t being utilized.

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