When two Youngstown police officers retire this month, they will take a combined 70 years worth of law-enforcement experience with them.
Detective Sgt. David McKnight and Detective Sgt. Charles Guzzy retire after careers that have seen a host of changes in the city and to police work in general.
Both McKnight and Guzzy share a similar story and career path. They were born on the same day in 1957, both became sworn officers for the city in 1978, and both have worked various positions within the department.
And both decided to retire in the same week.
Even the desire to become police officers was somewhat identical between the two men. It was a desire that began at an early age and was cultivated by others in the community.
“From the time I was in high school, I had my sights set on police work,” Guzzy said. “I thought it would be an interesting field, and that has been proven absolutely right.”
McKnight said the desire was similar for him, and it was reinforced by old-style police officers speaking to young people about law enforcement.
“Some older cops would come around the neighborhood and talk, and they seemed to like what they did,” he said. “They had exciting calls and would come back through after the call and stop and talk to you. It just seemed like a great job to do.”
Now, Guzzy and McKnight are those old-style cops with the same influence on others as those who once influenced them, said Police Chief Rod Foley. He said it is hard to see those officers leave the department.
“When you lose guys [who] have been here that long, you lose a lot of wisdom. ... It’s nice to have those guys around with the historical perspective,” he said. “They are both good friends of mine, and I have a lot of respect for them. I am glad they are leaving here healthy with plans for the future.”
Those plans for the two are somewhat different. Guzzy said his plans, at least at first, don’t contain any real plans at all with the exception of finding new ways to entertain himself.
McKnight said he will find something to keep him busy, or his wife will find something for him.
“I am not going to fall off the face of the earth,” McKnight said. “I have a family, and I am going to spend time with them and catch up on some things the boss, my wife, tells me to do.”
Guzzy and McKnight both said they are proud to have served the city through myriad changes such as the bustling city and nightlife in their early careers through the impact of the drug trade and increased crime and now the pending revitalization.
Both men said those changes made law enforcement in Youngstown challenging and rewarding.