By Elise Franco
Colleagues said they look up to the chief and respect all he’s done for the department.
CANFIELD — The city’s police chief will be hanging up his badge after 26 years — at least for now.
David Blystone said his last day as Canfield Police Department chief will be March 31.
“The decision to retire has been such a complicated one,” he said. “I don’t think I can point to just one thing. ... I feel like this is a good time in my life.”
Blystone said he’s had mixed emotions about leaving.
“I love my job, but I have other things to consider,” he said. “It’s not the only important thing in my life.”
The hardest part for Blystone will be leaving behind the people he’s worked with daily for more than two decades.
“The people I work with — they’ve been incredible,” he said. “I’ve been very blessed in that sense, to be around so many fantastic people.”
Detective Brian McGivern said Blystone is someone who will be missed by everyone in the city.
“He makes sure his troops, including the road division, supervisors and detectives bureau, all have the best equipment and training available,” he said. “He’s very supportive of the job, and everything we do is possible day-in and day-out because of him.”
McGivern said Blystone always did what was in the best interest of the department and the city, even if others didn’t agree.
“He truly does the right thing, even if it’s not the most popular thing in public opinion,” he said. “He always sticks by what’s right in his values, and he passes that on to the guys under him.”
McGivern said his chief is the type of officer other officers should aspire to.
“I think if you look up the definition of why guys want to be police officers, they have values, commitment, honor and duty. I think if you look up the definitions to all those words you’ll see that man’s face,” he said.
City Manager Chuck Tieche said he gave Blystone the chief’s job, believing that he would do good things for Canfield, and he’s happy to have been right.
“I came in 1991, and I’ve had the privilege of working with him since then,” he said. “I guess at that time my thought was he was a conscientious officer who had the skills to lead the department.
“I would say he never let me down.”
Tieche said he appreciates how much Blystone was able to accomplish in his 17 years as chief, while maintaining a low profile.
“He’s just a real consistent guiding hand that promotes education within the department and does an excellent job of delegating authority,” he said. “He’s also a good worker out within the county. I think if you talk to any number of police chiefs in Mahoning County, you’ll find that they all respect David Blystone.”
Blystone, who said he worked at General Motors for nine years before becoming a police officer, joined the force in March 1983. He was promoted to police chief in 1992.
He said the decision to go into criminal justice all but fell into his lap.
“It started while I was in college [at Youngstown State University]. I took an introduction to criminal justice class, and that was it for me,” Blystone said. “I knew that’s what I wanted to do.”
He said his intent was never to become chief, but when the department had an opening, he decided to go for it.
“Sometimes an opportunity is there, and it’s just the right time and place,” Blystone said.
Now, he is ready to move on, at least for a little while.
Blystone said he teaches a criminal justice course part time at YSU. “I’d like to possibly expand on that,” he said. “And you know, spend time with my family and friends. I’m going to take a break, for a short while at least.”
Tieche said only two officers applied for the chief’s position, and only one, Sgt. Chuck Colucci, met the qualifications.
He said to qualify for police chief, a candidate must live in Ohio, have a master’s degree in criminal justice, and have worked as a police officer for at least 10 years with at least three of those years as a supervisor.
“We are having some discussion with Chuck [Colucci] at this point ...,” he said. “We’re going to have some sit-downs with him, but not necessarily as much of a formal interview process as we would otherwise.”
Tieche said he hopes to have a decision on the position by this week.
Blystone said the most difficult task for the incoming chief will be dealing with the slipping economy’s impact on the department. “Even before the economy crashed, the cost to operate the government had gone up,” he said. “The challenge here will be to maintain quality.”
Through everything, though, Blystone said the department will be just fine.
“It’s been a chief’s dream to work here,” he said. “Things will carry on. I don’t think the department will miss a beat, and that’s exactly what we planned for.”