Boardman police adds 3 new officers; now total 59
By SEAN BARRON
BOARDMAN — The Boardman Police Department has added three new officers to its ranks.
The three new hires brings to 59 the number of full-time officers with the department, and moves it a significant step closer to reaching a goal of 63, Chief Todd Werth said after Monday’s township trustees meeting. One additional officer is training in the police academy, he added.
Sworn in were officers Jarod Sutton, Dante Romano and Ryan Marshburn.
Sutton, of Salem, served as an intern for the department after having graduated from the Youngstown State University Police Academy.
Romano is a 2022 YSU graduate who also graduated from the university academy, and is from Poland. He served as an intern with the U.S. Marshal’s Service.
Marshburn, of Columbiana, graduated from the Kent State University Police Academy and serves in the Pennsylvania National Guard.
The department is continuing its hiring process to “find good candidates who will represent our department well, our citizens well and our community well,” Werth said.
New hires are subjected to an extensive background investigation and undergo psychological and medical evaluations. In addition, they take a voice-stress test and, for several months after being hired, rotate shifts and work with different field officers, Werth noted.
Also at the session, six veteran officers were given Distinguished Service awards for working 30 years or more with the department, as well as for their exemplary service. The six who have a total of 189 years were Capt. Albert Kakascik, Lt. Steve Riwniak, Sgt. Michael Hughes, Lt. Richard Balog, Sgt. Charles Hillman and officer Tony Ciccotelli.
“It’s been a privilege,” Hillman said after receiving his proclamation. “It’s my home.”
Hillman, who grew up in McDonald, added he appreciates the community support for the department.
Also, Kakascik was the recipient of a Meritorious Service Award for his work on solving the April 1972 killing of 12-year-old Brad Bellino, whose body was found in a trash bin behind Isaly’s Dairy store in the Boardman Plaza.
After rising to the rank of captain in 2017, Kakascik asked to be assigned to the Bellino case. Beforehand, he had been looking at nine cold cases that were presumed homicides and came to believe the Bellino killing had a good chance to be solved, he recalled.
The following year, Boardman police began working with Reston, Va.-based Parabon Nanolabs, a company that provides DNA phenotyping services to law enforcement. Eventually, DNA samples that had been collected in 2001, when the case was reopened, interviews with people and the most recent family tree Parabon provided, led to the discovery of Joseph N. Hill of Yucaipa, Calif., who died in 2019 of natural causes. Hill lived on Shadyside Drive in Boardman at the time of the crime.
In addition, a relative of Hill’s voluntarily submitted a DNA sample that showed a 98 percent match for DNA that had been found on Bellino’s body.
Though a 100 percent match was impossible because Hill was cremated and had no DNA on record for testing, Kakascik and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation were comfortable saying the DNA was Hill’s.
Kakascik, who started with the Boardman Police Department in 1990, said after Monday’s meeting he was happy that, despite Hill’s death, Bellino’s family could at least find a measure of peace.
“Information is the best thing to have,” he added.
Kakascik, who also served in the Ohio Army National Guard, as well as a year with the Steubenville Police Department, said he intends to turn his attention to other cold cases, work with the department on creating new policies and finish certain software work.