By Denise Dick and
Because of new civil-service rules approved by the Republican-controlled state Legislature, the city was able to hire Jimmy Hughes Jr., the son of the retired police chief, who finished 30th among those seeking police-officer jobs.
Under the old state civil- service rules, Hughes would have been ineligible. Known as the “rule of 10,” the policy required the city to offer jobs to those who finished in the top 10 on the tests. If those in the top 10 were hired as Youngstown police officers or rejected the job offer, the person with the next highest score moved into the top 10 and could be hired.
But the new law, included in the state budget by the Gov. John Kasich administration, allows the city to hire anyone who scored in the top 25 on the test. There were 198 people who passed the test, meaning anyone in the top 50 could have been hired.
Hughes, 26, jumped to 17th on the list for two reasons.
First, the five other officers sworn in with him Monday moved him up five slots. Also, eight candidates who finished ahead of Hughes on the combined written and physical- agility test chose not to seek a police patrol-officer job.
“Everyone hired was eligible,” said Jennifer Lewis, the city’s civil-service commission administrator.
Three of the other new officers were in the top 10, while two others, Nicholas Menichini and Jose Morales, finished 13th and 15th, respectively. They jumped to seventh and ninth after others turned down the jobs.
Police Chief Rod Foley, who replaced Jimmy Hughes Sr. as police chief, said he wondered how people would react to the hiring of the ex-chief’s son.
“I felt it wasn’t fair to rule him out because his dad was the police chief,” he said. “I was concerned with people saying it’s nepotism. But he has the experience and training and is going to earn his bachelor’s degree shortly. I’d be silly to pass him over because of who his dad is.”
Besides the son’s being a good police officer, Foley said it’s important to have diversity in the department. Hughes is black and is the only Youngstown resident among the new hires. He previously worked for the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Department.
The six new officers are the first patrolmen hired at the police department in four years, Foley said.
Mayor Charles Sammarone swore them in Monday in city hall council chambers.
There is another familiar name among the new hires.
Morales, 23, of Canfield, is the son of Detective Sgt. Jose Morales. The younger Morales previously worked at Phantom Fireworks.
Eric Ruschak, 37, of Fowler, formerly from the Portage County Sheriff’s Department; Nicholas Bailey, 25, of Farmdale, formerly of Howland Police; Michael Medvec, 30, of Poland, formerly of Struthers Police; and Nicholas Menichini, 24, of Mineral Ridge, formerly of Weathersfield Police, rounded out the new police hires.
Three new firefighters, Kyle Trimble of Canfield, Bryan Meehan of Lowellville and Matt Durkin of Youngstown, also were sworn in during Monday’s ceremony bringing to 138 the number of city firefighters.
Foley said the new police hires brings to 150 the number in his department compared with a high of 215 in 2001.
He expects more officers to be hired.
“We’re going to be losing six to seven officers in the next six months due to retirement,” the chief said.
The department includes 103 patrol officers with the remainder being ranking officers.
Shortly after becoming chief, Foley said he would move officers from special units and put them on patrol.
“We need more officers to be generalists rather than specialists,” he said.