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Youngstown Police Chief Foley has set bar high for successor



Published: Mon, December 30, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

We doubt we’re the only ones disappointed that Youngstown Mayor-elect John A. McNally chose not to retain Rod Foley as chief of police. By any objective evaluation, Foley has been an exemplary top cop in a city that has long been defined by crime, especially homicides.

After two years and four months at the helm, Foley can point to the progress that has been made to get the drug-dealing gang bangers off the streets — with the active participation of federal and state law enforcement agencies.

The crime statistics tell the story, which Mayor Charles Sammarone contends is due in large part to the strategy developed by Foley, who has been with the department since 1991 and was chief of detectives prior to his promotion.

But despite this stellar record, McNally has chosen to put his stamp on the police department by appointing a retired city police officer, Robin Lees, to succeed Foley.

Lees, who served as head of the vice squad, the Mahoning Valley Crisis Response Team and the Mahoning Valley Law Enforcement Task Force, retired after 33 years’ service.

He was not one of the original applicants for the chief’s job, but was asked by McNally to submit a resume after the mayor-elect found out he was interested.

There’s no doubt that Lees has the experience and knowledge to the lead the department, but we would urge him and the new mayor to review the current administration’s anti-crime campaign and adopt the initiatives that are working.

For too long, the city of Youngstown has been defined by its crime rate. One year, in the not too distant past, it had the highest per capita homicide rate in the nation. That became a national story.

Today, however, neighborhoods long held hostage by gun-toting drug dealers, are breathing sighs of relief as the increase in police patrols makes life easier — and safer — for residents.

But the illegal drug trade and the attendant violent crimes are far from eliminated, which means the new police chief, Lees, will have to focus on them.

Press relations

Lees does have an advantage as he takes over a department hamstrung by the large number of retirements in the patrol division (Foley has added 20 new officers): he has a good working relationship with the press.

He served as the department’s public information officer under Chief Jimmy Hughes and earned high marks for his accessibility and honesty.

We have questioned the need for a PIO in a relatively small department serving a shrinking city. Thus, we would urge the new chief to be his own spokesman. Serving the public interest means dealing with the press — openly and honestly.

Mayor-elect McNally has been around local politics long enough to know that there’s nothing to be gained by shrouding city government in secrecy.

Indeed, outgoing Mayor Sammarone’s decision to install GPS tracking on 330 city-owned vehicles is the kind of transparency the public expects from government.


Comments

1handymandave(380 comments)posted 6 months, 1 week ago

Foley had a golden opportunity to lead the police department. He was a micro manager. He studied under Richard Lewis and couldn't really control his people because they didn't respect him enough to work for him. In the role of chief of police, you have to command respect or you end up with a Foley. Under Lees, you'll see a well seasoned officer handle the department by putting key officers in charge of divisions and he won't micro mange them. Why? Because he has been around long enough to know who can do the job that they are assigned to do. If they don't do the job correctly, he'll replace them in those key points. Lees has no bar set by Foley. Foley will have a bar set by Lees.

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2dmacker(243 comments)posted 6 months, 1 week ago

Having experienced first hand Robin Lees leadership ability I expect him to be the best Chief of Police Youngstown has ever had. As good as Foley was he did have some faults. I find it interesting how quick some are to settle for the status quo rather than a move to improve by Mayor McNally. It is after all his administration.

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32muchtax(303 comments)posted 6 months, 1 week ago

Hopefully lees can do something about the 40 percent of people driving around without car insurance. PA makes you prove you have insurance before getting plates! This is not rocket science Kasic!

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4author50(1121 comments)posted 6 months, 1 week ago

Foley wouldn't know what the meaning of of due process meant if Mt. Rushmore fell on him.

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