McNally taps new heads of police, law departments

By joe gorman


Youngstown will have both a new police chief and law director in the new year.

Mayor-elect John A. McNally said Friday he has chosen former city Lt. Robin Lees to head the police department and Martin Hume, a Mahoning County assistant prosecutor, to become the new law director.

They are both being introduced at a news conference this morning at Fellows Riverside Gardens in Mill Creek Park.

Their selections mean the current heads of the departments, Police Chief Rod Foley and Law Director Anthony Farris, will be out of their jobs when McNally takes office in 2014, although Foley is expected to remain in the department and return to his former rank of captain.

McNally declined to elaborate on why he chose Lees and Hume, saying he will answer all questions at today’s news conference.

One thing he did say is that Lees is not one of the original applicants for the chief’s job. McNally said he heard that Lees was interested within the last week and asked Lees to submit a resume, which he did.

Farris said he did not have a lot to say other than to wish everyone in the law department luck in the future.

“That’s the way things go,” Farris said.

Farris said it would be “probably unlikely” he would stay in the department, where he had worked as an assistant law director for several years before being appointed to the top spot by outgoing Mayor Charles Sammarone.

Foley did not return a message seeking comment.

Foley was appointed in September 2011 by Sammarone to be chief, replacing Jimmy Hughes, who retired.

As chief, Foley has focused on using technology to help target violent groups and individuals to cut down on the city’s violent-crime rate. He also added more than 20 officers to the ranks to address a wave of early retirements in the patrol division.

Lees was a police officer in the city for 33 years and had served as head of the vice squad as well as the Mahoning Valley Crisis Response Team and the Mahoning Valley Law Enforcement Task Force, which was responsible for several, long-term drug investigations in the city and Mahoning County in general.

He is now head of security at the Butler Museum of American Art.

Hume has been an assistant prosecutor for the Mahoning County Prosecutor’s Office for 17 years, presently in county court in Boardman. He has been a lawyer for more than 30 years and also helps low-income people through his work for Northeast Ohio Legal Services.

Prosecutor Paul Gains said both picks are good ones. He said he has known Hume since he became a lawyer in the mid-1980s.

“I think he’s an excellent choice,” Gains said. “I think he’ll do an excellent job for Mayor McNally.”

Gains said he would have been happy had Foley and Farris stayed, but he likes Lees and Hume.

“They’re both very competent people,” Gains said.

Lou Zona, executive director of the Butler, said Lees will be missed.

“It’s a great loss for us but a great gain for the city,” Zona said. “He’s a good man. He’s very, very professional and good with people. He knows the law.”

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