Valued Youngstown cop retiring, says people skills are key

By joe gorman


Robert Eshenbaugh didn’t waste any time after his last day on the job as a city police officer.

Eshenbaugh, who retired earlier this month after 29 years on the force, said he was planning to move to Florida immediately and already had a house ready to move into in the Sunshine State.

The city’s sometimes brutal winters are not something he is going to miss, Eshenbaugh said.

Before he joined city police, Eshenbaugh said, he was an officer in Warren Township, Trumbull County, for seven years. He also has worked stints for the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office as part of its Marine Patrol.

Eshenbaugh said he decided to take the civil- service test in Youngstown because he wanted to work in the city to be close to his father, who was ill at the time, so he could take care of him.

“I’ve been on everything from loose dogs to homicides,” Eshenbaugh said.

Eshenbaugh said the biggest change he has seen through his career is how young people have changed.

“The behavior of the young adults is terrible,” Eshenbaugh said.

Eshenbaugh also said that even though he has more than 35 years in law enforcement, he still is surprised by some things.

“It always amazes me how people can harm one another,” Eshenbaugh said. “I could never understand that.”

He did say after a while as a cop, he got used to how to act in crisis mode.

“Once you do it long enough, it’s a part of you,” Eshenbaugh said. “You just take it as it comes.”

The biggest difference in the officers now is that most who join the force have some college under their belts, if not degrees, and they worked other jobs outside of law enforcement before joining the field. He said the biggest thing new officers have to learn is how to deal with people. If they can learn that, they should have a good career, he said.

“Common sense goes a long way,” Eshenbaugh said. “If you can talk to people, you can solve most problems. And that makes your job a lot easier.”

Chief Rod Foley said that although someone may take Eshenbaugh’s place on the road, there is no substitute for the experience and relationships he has accumulated through his years on the job. He estimated it would take two to three years for a new officer to acquire those same sets of skills. He estimated that’s how long it would take for someone to go through several different situations two or three times on the road.

“Basically, you have an encyclopedia that’s leaving your department,” Foley said.

“We’re going to miss him,” Foley said of Eshenbaugh. “He’s a unique individual. He’s quite a character.”

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