By Ed Runyan
Lt. Jeff Cole says the biggest challenge for him in his new position as a lieutenant in the Warren Police Department will be to “make a difference any way I can.”
Cole, who has served in recent years as public- information officer, internal-affairs officer and detective, now will serve as supervisor for the detective bureau.
He is now officer in charge, meaning he will assign cases to the detectives and monitor the everyday activities of the bureau. He also will continue in his role as departmental spokesman.
“This is an important day in my career and my life,” said Cole, a Youngstown native and graduate of South High School. He took the oath of office Tuesday in city hall.
“I have big shoes to fill,” Cole said with a nod to Gary Vingle, who officially retired Tuesday after 30 years with the department, including 26 years as detective. Vingle, a lieutenant, was the officer in charge of the detective bureau before Cole.
Over those 26 years, Vingle said two cases stick out in his memory — the murder of George Melnick and the brutal assault of his wife, Katherine, on Wick Street in 1988, and the murder of John Coleman and Tracey Jefferys and attempted murder of John Everett by Roderick Davie at a veterinary supply company in 1991.
In both cases, all three murderers carried out their deeds with terrible cruelty, Vingle said.
Roderick Davie, who was executed by the state in 2010, “ran out of bullets,” so he hit Jefferys repeatedly with a chair. And because John Everett tried to escape after being shot three times, Davie chased him in a delivery truck and tried to run him down.
Vingle said the biggest technological change in 30 years has been the use of DNA to help identify killers and other criminals.
“Thank God for DNA evidence,” Vingle said, adding that when he started, all police could do was narrow down a pool of suspects by knowing his blood type.
Another officer who was promoted Tuesday was Joe Kistler, who became sergeant after four years on a promotional list.
Kistler took the civil- service exam for sergeant at about the same time the city and police union agreed to reduce the number of sergeants from 15 to 10.
With Vingle’s retirement and Cole’s promotion to lieutenant, the 10th sergeant position finally was open.
Kistler will be in charge of the four-officer team of Warren City Schools resource officers.