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New mayor to begin search for Youngstown police chief

Published: Fri, August 12, 2011 @ 12:07 a.m.


Mayor Charles Sammarone


Jimmy Hughes

By David Skolnick



Though he’s received a few letters of interest, Mayor Charles Sammarone said he’s starting his search today for a new police chief.

Although Jimmy Hughes is supposed to retire Aug. 31, Sammarone said Thursday the current police chief has agreed to run the department until sometime in September.

Sammarone said he doesn’t want to rush the decision, and Hughes’ Aug. 31 retirement date probably doesn’t give him enough time for a proper search.

Also, Sammarone wants the next police chief to work with Hughes for about a week learning the job.

The new chief could start as early as the first week of September and no later than the end of that month, Sammarone said.

The mayor said anyone interested in the job, “especially those from within” the department, should send a r sum to him at city hall, 26 S. Phelps St., as soon as possible.

Those who’ve confirmed their interest in the job include former Lt. Robin Lees, a 33-year veteran who spent the last five years of his law-enforcement career as commander of the Mahoning Valley Task Force before retiring in January; Detective Sgt. Donald Scott, who’s also an attorney; and Capt. Rod Foley, chief of the detective division.

Sammarone expects several others to apply.

Sammarone, appointed mayor Aug. 1, said his relatively short term, which expires Dec. 31, 2013, makes it difficult to hire a police chief from outside the department.

The chief is hired and fired at the sole discretion of the mayor.

Youngstown officers are protected under civil- service law. If the next mayor doesn’t want to keep the chief, that person returns to his or her former job. But someone hired from outside the department doesn’t have that job security, Sammarone said.

The mayor’s concerns about hiring someone from outside the department are reinforced by a consultant with the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police, a nonprofit group composed of police executives retained by Youngstown to assist with the chief search.

“It is my professional opinion that [Sammarone] appoint a chief from within the current ranks,” wrote Patrick Oliver, the consultant who was police chief in Cleveland, Fairborn and Grandview Heights, in a letter to city Law Director Iris Torres Guglucello.

“The rationale for this recommendation is based on the extreme difficulty in recruiting and selecting an external chief candidate to take the job with the high potential of being replaced,” Oliver added.

The consultant recommended the city charter be changed to allow for a five-year contract for future incoming police chiefs.

“This contractual period is required to maintain the stability necessary for the development and implementation of major reform initiatives within the police department,” Oliver wrote.

Sammarone said he agrees with the recommendation and plans to have a charter review commission formed that would consider this, among other issues, to place in front of city voters in the next year for approval.


1chrismatthews1971(5 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Why would the mayor consider anyone for police chief who does not live in the city? Who won't move back into the city? What an insult those living in Youngstown. Even though the state did away with residency, the citizens of Youngstown spoke loud and clear that they wanted its employees to live in the city. Now the mayor wants to consider a guy who moved out and would never move back, to lead the police department. The police chief, just like the mayor should reside in Youngstown. If you want to be a department you should live in the city.

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2lumper(301 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

let's just hope the new chief is not white, so we don't have to put up with the race card every time somebody gets arrested.

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3BrothaLove(81 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago


Jay still lived in the city of Youngstown, regardless of your claim that it was a so called "white neighborhood." The neighborhood is still in the city so as you put it with every post — uHMMM ... Yea OK- GET A GRIP !

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4pgurney(296 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

To be honest, I'd rather he hired someone from OUTSIDE the police force, even outside the city. We need someone with a new perspective, someone who doesn't have 30 years of city ties, and local political ties. Someone who's going to get things done, and not kiss people's butts.

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5hellokitty(161 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Lees or Foley would be good choices. Lees does however, offer much more experience. I know both, and believe both to be honest.

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6hellokitty(161 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Does this forum not allow for editing? I wanted to add that both Lees and Foley have a relatively decent grasp of the English language. Believe it or not, that is a good attribute for a chief to possess....

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7FormerWestsider(23 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago


You do realize Cornersburg is just a nickname and not an actual municipality? It's an area made up of the corners of Youngstown, Canfield, Austintown, and Boardman. Castle Court is nowhere close to Cornersburg and it wouldn't matter anyways because it's on the Youngstown side.

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8taxpayer1001(274 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Former-I don't think he realizes anything. The amount of nonsense posts at all times of the night and day continuously on each article shows ...hmmm maybe a big problem with drugs and/or alcohol? something is just not right with this person and it's not worth addressing him directly. That only encourages him to go on a rant. I'm sure this will cause at least 5 new rants through the night.

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9FormerWestsider(23 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago


What was I thinking? You are correct.

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10atownalum(3 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

I think honesty and morals is much more important than residency...

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11chrismatthews1971(5 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

If the police chief serves at the pleasure of the mayor, why would the chief have a 5 year contract. The contract negates that aspect. What would happen if the mayor was not satisfied with a chief's performance? Why would a contract extend a chief into another mayor's term? What a cluster - a mayor would be stuck with another mayor's appointee. The rationale for a 5 year contract is bogus. What other large departments have chief's with a contract like that? The sheriff has to run every four years, why would the police chief be any different? Why not the same for all department heads, give them all contracts. Why not do the chief like the clerk of courts and make him stand elections if there's a charter change? Why not the water commissioner? The city prosecutor run for election like the county prosecutor.
BUT BACK TO --- A CITY POLICE CHIEF WHO DOESN'T LIVE IN THE CITY. No, it's not always about how dangerous the city is. How many white cops moved from the city with the end of residency compared to the number of black and hispanic officers? Is the city any less dangerous for the minority officers? Lewis, Wellingtin, Bush, Huges an all lived in the city while police chief. Just look at Cleveland, Akron etc and ask where do their top law enforcement officer live

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