In the late 1800's, Austintown Township's
population was climbing towards 2,000 people. The township contained the
villages of Austintown Center, West Austintown, Smiths Corners, and Ohltown.
Apart of the village of Mineral Ridge was also within the township.
By the early 1900's, the township continued to grow in population. The villages
of Austintown Center and West Austintown had populations of some 250 inhabitants
each. Among the first Justices of the Peace serving the township in this
era were James Russell, John Carlton, and William Truesdale.
In 1915, voters of the township passed a bond issue for a centralized school
building, and a high school was organized. Elsewhere in the world, the 12th
World Series was played between Boston AL and Philadelphia NL in which Boston
won four games to one and the first transatlantic radiotelephone call was
made to the Eiffel Tower. This same year, the voters of Austintown Township
elected the first recorded constable to serve the township, Herbert Dehoff.
Dehoff receives 163 votes of about 225 cast in Austintown's three precincts.
The elected constables were considered "fee constables". Their primary duty
involved serving the orders and writs of the duly elected Justice of Peace.
For each legal process served or delivered, the constable received a fee.
The elected constable earned no pay from the township at all and was there
to almost uniquely serve the Justice of the Peace.
The Growing Years
After World War I, Austintown's population
was approaching 2,000 and by the early 1920's the Wickliffe area began to
develop. By 1921, school enrollment had climbed to about350 and the voters
were now electing two constables to serve the township. In that year, IF.
Blaemire and F.M. Ohl were elected with 298 and 406 votes respectfully.
The practice of electing constables continued into the late 1950's, with
constables running for election just as the county sheriffs are elected
today. The term of office was two years. Other early elected constables
included; F. Hoffner, Ray H. Shaffner, William A. Walzel, C.F. Doty and
This form of law enforcement apparently worked well into the 1940's with
the elected constables working with the township "JP" or Justice of the
Peace. One longtime JP of this era was BJ. Rosensteel.
Soaring through World War II, the township continued to grow. Amongst the
growth came new problems for the township face including a number of taverns
catering to the workers from the then booming steel mills. The minutes of
the July 7th, 1945 Austintown Township Trustees meeting record that the
trustees were upset with "[the] sheriff being called out several times due
to loud noise and general disturbances" at township taverns. The elected
constables were on call, and now did some patrolling, but they still mostly
served the JP serving orders, warrants and civil papers for fees. The county
sheriff was still responsible for dealing with most serious crimes within
the township during this time.
On August 19, 1946, the two elected constables , John Grubis and Arthur
Young, who would later go on to be elected a township trustee, attended
the trustees meeting. Minutes of that meeting indicate they "were present
in regard to being paid for policing the township." The minutes continued
"Mr. Grubis said they [Grubis and Young] spent a lot of time driving all
over the township and received very little for such police work. He said
as constable he wouldn't average over five dollars a week." A motion was
made by Trustee Gaylord Evens and seconded by Trustee W.J. Shiveley, that
as of January 1, 1947, the constables be "reimbursed by the trustees for
policing the township." Thus, on the 6th of January 1947,a resolution was
passed by the Board of Trustees of Austintown Township to appoint Grubis
and Young as police constables, and that they be paid "the sum not to exceed
$22.50 each per month." The trustees cited "the dire need of police protection"
in this resolution, which made Grubis and Young the first paid
police constables of Austintown Township, while they remained elected constables
as well. Township trustees were quick to direct the constables to problems
within the township. A July 21, 1947 letter to the constables, from the
trustees, stated "that due to the many complaints received by the trustees
in regard to wide open gambling within the township, we feel that it now
becomes the duty of the township constables, who are now on the township
payroll, to see that this [gambling] is discontinued." The paid constables
lasted one year. In January 1948 they were not rehired, and the township
returned to elected constables working for fees only. This lasted until
1951, when trustees appointed Jack G. Bishop as the first full-time police
Into the 50's
By February 1952, Bishop was earning a salary
of $350.00 per month plus an allowance of$125.00 per month "for expenses"
as the township still did own a police car. Trustees cited the cost of additional
gasoline being used by Bishop for the allowance. In August 1952, trustees
hired Donald R. Terry as a "telephone operator and watchman" at "the" fire
station -there was only one then, at 5340 Mahoning Ave. This made Terry
the first "dispatcher" although there was no police two-way radio at the
time. When a call was received and the constable was patrolling, a card
would be hung in a window at the fire station. When the constable would
drive by and see the card, he would stop in and get the details of the call.
This practice went on for several years until Civil Defense radios were
purchased for police use.
In 1953, the State of Ohio enacted law, which for the first time defined
the roll of a township constable. Section 509.10 O.R.C. stated the following:
"each constable shall apprehend, on view or with warrant, and bring to justice
all felons, disturbers, and violators of the criminal laws of this State,
and shall suppress all riots, affrays and unlawful assemblies which come
to his knowledge and shall generally keep the peace in his Township." This
law remains in place today.
The 1955 budget of Austintown Township allowed $6000.00 for "police constable"
expenses. In March of that year, trustees appointed a second constable,
Vaughn N. Woodworth. The township continued to struggle with growing pains
that year. In September, trustees sent a letter to Sheriff Langley requesting
him to "deputize police constable Bishop so that he could make arrests and
help increase traffic law enforcement on [then] State Route 18.
The constables gained a third part-time constable in March 1956 and their
space in the Mahoning Ave. fire station was now being referred to in documents
as "Office of Police Constables". Since the men were not "police officers"
under Ohio definition, this was technically correct. By law, they were constables
working from a "constabulary". Their office in the fire station would remain
into the late 1970's, and their title as "Township Constable" remains to
The budget for the Office of Police Constables was increased to $11,000.00
in 1957, and by April of that year, there were four constables. Edgar Hoffman
and James H. Hazlett Jr. were hired that month. Hazlett would go on to later
become Chief of Police. This was apparently just in time considering the
newspaper headlines of the day. "Raid Near City Dump Nets 11O-Gallon Moonshine
Still" read one headline of an undated Youngstown Vindicator story. The
December 7,1957 Youngstown Vindicator held the headline "Meridian Rd. Club
Raided; 13 Arrested". Another headline in the April 10, 1958 Niles Daily
Times read "Big Time Bookie Joint Raided in Austintown". Another undated
Youngstown Vindicator headline gave the details "Grab Green Moonshine, Man,
Woman in Raid".
Again in 1958 the budget for constables was increased -now to $15,000.00,
reflecting the growing need for police protection in the township. In January
1958, longtime constable Jack Bishop resigned to become a Deputy U.S. Marshal.
His resignation created controversy when township trustees met in a special
session to fill the vacancy. The minutes of that February 13, 1958 meeting
shows that the trustees received 11 applications and that "approximately
35 persons" attended the meeting. The group "entered into a discussion criticizing
the lack of information on all applicants as to general qualifications such
as place of residence, experience, etc." Trustees decided to postpone the
appointment and take written applications from each candidate "stating their
qualifications." Further, trustees made a motion to have the applications
screened by a five person committee, with the mission of narrowing the list
down to just three applicants. Prior to this, the elected constables had
simply been appointed also as paid
police constables. There had been no guidelines or qualifications let alone
a written application. This action sat in motion minimum standards for appointed
police constables for the township.
In an interview with former trustee Ken Zinz, James H. Hazlett Jr. reflected
on these days, and how an officer was trained. Hazlett commented that the
Ohio State Highway Patrol most often gave the early constables advice in
matters. However the bulk of the training was "on the job."
A milestone was reached in September 1959 when at a special session, the
constables "presented the trustees with the keys for anew 1959 Dodge Pursuit
Police Cruiser purchased by the constables from the receipts of a benefit
show." Austintown now had its first police car. Up to this point, constables
had continued the practice of using their own cars. When on duty, a magnetic
sign was placed on the door which read "Police Constable".
The late fifties also saw the constables wearing a standard uniform, which
they had to buy on their own. Headwear was an "eight point" hat, which was
used with the state trooper style "Sam Brown belt" worn on the outside of
the uniform jacket. The uniform itself was gray. The shoulder patch was
the same design as worn by officers today with the exception that it read
"Austintown Constable" rather than "Police". The "bird" in the center of
the patch is actually a Falcon in tribute the Austintown Fitch High School
football team. The Falcon would later appear on door decals in the early
60's in a design that was used for more than 35 years and only recently
The 1950's were a period of immense growth for Austintown and for law enforcement
serving the township. The lone constable grew to six, which continued to
be static from 1959 to 1961.
Going into the 60's the newspaper headlines
changed from moonshine to bombs, burglaries, bandits and guns. "Bomb Hits
Restaurant, Blast May be Warning from Mob"; Capture 4 in Burglary at Loblaw
Inc; "Hold-Up Note 'Have Gun Will Shoot"'; "Bandit Robs Dairy Here"; and
"Constable Finds Cache of Burglars" were headlines that reflected new types
of crimes facing the growing force.
Another type of growing problem was illustrated when on January 11, 1960,
the constables presented the trustees with a "drunkometer", which was again
purchased by the constables with receipts from their benefit show, as was
a second police car. The constables donated a 1960 Ford police cruiser to
the trustees on July 16, 1960. At the start of 1961 the budget was now listed
as the "Police Protection Fund" and was set at $40,000.00 for the year.
The total township budget was $220,471.26 and there were 57.95 miles of
township roads now.
History was made on February 20, 1961, trustees created a full-time police
department for Austintown Township. Newspaper articles on this topic have
placed the year of the full-time department as 1963, however this is apparently
in error. Dane L. Carder was named "Chief Constable", with Albert Whitehouse
named as Assistant Chief. Other officers hired were James H. Hazlett Jr.,
George Vahaskey, Leroy Hartman and Clayton Heck. For the first time the
township would have seven day a week, 24 hour a day police protection.
Among the first equipment purchased by the township for the fledgling department
was a "radar timer" at a cost of $999.85; a very large sum in 1961 dollars.
In 1962 changes within the department continued. Noel W. Featsent replaced
Carder as Chief Constable on January 8, 1962. However, after only a week
on the job, Featsent quit. James H. Hazlett Jr. was named as acting chief
again, having been so named in 1958 also. On February 19, 1962, trustees
named Harry M. Husk as Chief Constable, and created the rank of Captain,
which was filled by Whitehouse.
Other changes in 1962 included the addition of a third police cruiser for
the young department in March of that year. In June, trustees approved the
creation of the auxiliary police at the request of Husk. These officers
would assist the members of the police department by donating their time.
Auxiliary police officers remain an important part of the Austintown Police
District today. Limited to 25 officers, auxiliaries must take the same training
required of full-time officers and agree to donate 32 hours a month in service
to the department supplementing full-time officers. In exchange, auxiliary
officers wishing to become full-time officers are given first consideration
when openings occur. All full-time officers hired since the 1970's have
come from the auxiliary ranks.
Also by now, two-way radios were now in all three cruisers on a frequency
shared with the fire department. In October of 1962 a sergeants position
was created with John Statler being appointed as the departments first sergeant.
The end of 1962 saw a fourth police cruiser added to the fleet as the department
continued to grow with the community. Activity listed for the year 1962
included: 883 traffic arrests (citations); 68 traffic arrests due to auto
accidents; 950 written traffic warnings; 144 misdemeanor arrests; 45 felony
arrests; 423 assistance rendered; 109 traffic accidents; 98 misdemeanor
investigations; 122 felony investigations; 69 other investigations; 170
written complaints; 562 special details; 30 DWI arrests; 331 public official
contacts; and 172 civil papers served. Total working hours that year were
19,048 with total miles driven of 117,931.
In 1963 gasoline was 26.9 cents per gallon and stamps were a nickel. More
advancement came to the department that year in the form of adding nine
officers to the auxiliary force and a fifth police cruiser was added to
the fleet. In July, the police department, as it was being called now, had
its own base radio and frequency approved by the FCC. In December of that
year, the "desk men" were renamed "dispatchers". The Communications Department
was then formed. Clyde George, who had been hired as a desk man in February
1962, was named Chief Dispatcher. George would remain in this position until
his retirement in 1989.
On July 15, 1964, James H. Hazlett Jr. was named Chief of Police. Hazlett
would remain Chief until 1980.
The department and the township continued to grow and expand through the
remainder of the 60's. By 1969 the general fund could no longer support
the needed police services. On November 7, 1969 voters of the township approved
the first police levy to provide police protection. The one mill, one year
levy, passed 4431 to 3343.
The Later Years
The 1970's and 1980's were two decades of
immense growth for the township and the department. Additional police levies
added officers and equipment.
In 1974, a Detective Division already in place, saw the creation of the
Juvenile Division with the help of a four-year grant.
Members of the police department joined the Fraternal Order of Police in
February 1974, and formed Austintown F.O.P. Lodge 126 to be their bargaining
unit for contract negotiations.
Voter approval of a police levy in January 1977, resulted in the hiring
of ten new officers. It was, and remains, the largest one time hiring of
new officers to the Austintown Police Department. The levy also provided
funds for extra cruisers and related equipment.
By September 1977, a dispute between the police officers in Lodge 126 and
the township arose. The dispute, which was over recognition of Lodge 126
as the officers bargaining unit and settlement of the first labor agreement
between the two sides, led to the first police strike in the townships history.
Settlement was a brief respite as in January, 1979 a second police strike
occurred after an impasse during negotiations of the second police contract.
The strike lasted four days and was the last to affect the township. Shortly
after its settlement, Ohio law was changed to provide a series of binding
arbitration by a state mediator to resolve public safety contracts.
Since the mid-1950's, the police department had shared quarters with the
fire department at the #1 fire station located at 5340 Mahoning Ave. Prisoners
arrested and brought to the station were often handcuffed to the heating
radiator outside the dispatchers room. On one particularly busy night, an
officer had to handcuff a man to the back of a fire truck to leave on an
emergency call, as the radiator was already in use. As fate would have it,
a fire call came in. Rather than take the intoxicated man with them, the
firemen used bolt cutters to cut the cuffs and had him sit in with the dispatcher
until the officer could return . An escaped arsonist was found sleeping
in the bathroom one morning. These problems were resolved when the new police
station was opened April 10, 1979 at 92 Ohltown Rd, to house the departments
28 officers, office staff and dispatchers. At the time, the station cost
$400,000.00 to build.
On January 15, 1980 longtime officer Lt. Robert "Pappy" Goldner became the
first police officer to actually retire from the police department. In August
of the same year, James Hazlett stepped down as chief at his request and
Capt. John C. Scott was named chief.
Due to the number of prisoners being transported to Austintown County Court
#4 three days a week, a new "paddy wagon", now more properly called a "Prisoner
Transport Vehicle" was placed in service in early 1984. The new three-compartment
vehicle replaced a used 1965 fire van, which had been converted and used
as a wagon prior. Unit 70 remains in use today.
Also in 1984, the Crime Prevention Division was added. Within a few years,
the program was recognized as the #1 program of its kind in Ohio. The award-winning
program also had the largest number of block watch members within the state,
with more than 4,000 residents participating. At one point, Crime Prevention
also offered a weekly TV show on the local cable community channel, again
a first within Ohio.
On April 30, 1987 John E. Cannon was named Chief of Police after the retirement
of Jack Scott. Cannon remains as Chief of Police today.
Rounding out the remainder of the 1980's, a major change of the structure
of the department took place on Nov.1, 1987. On this date, the department
officially became a "police district". Police officers assumed the duties
of being not only a township police constable, which they had remained over
the years, but also now as a "police officer" serving a township police
district. Ohio law recognizes different types of law enforcement and each
has different powers. This change greatly enhanced the law enforcement powers
of officers serving the Austintown Police District as the department is
Another "first" came in July 1988, when the APD Juvenile Diversion Program
was started with the assistance of a state grant. First of its kind in the
region, the program was designed to "divert" juvenile offenders from entering
the criminal justice system under certain conditions. The program has grown
and is widely recognized and copied today as it continues to assist the
youth of Austintown today.
Thanks once again to voter approval of a police levy, additional officers
were added as well as the installation of a new radio system in June of
1989 and an in-house computer and Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system in
September 1990. The radio system, a "trunked" 800 Mhz. system, replaced
a worn VHF system shared with the Mahoning County Sheriff and Beaver Township
Police. The capabilities of the new system were such that as of today, all
Austintown Township departments such as road, fire, zoning and parks share
the system without interfering with each other. The CAD system helps prioritize
calls for the dispatchers, tracks the status of fire and police units, and
helps track calls for service for both. Even prior to the addition of Enhanced
911 in Mahoning County, Austintown dispatchers had dispatched both police
and fire calls since the addition of police radios to cruisers. With the
addition of 911 to Mahoning County, Austintown became its own Public Safety
Answering Point (PSAP) and continued to
dispatch these calls from the same office located in the police station.
The last unit created within APD was the Problem Oriented Policing (POP)
Unit in 1994. A community policing concept, the two-officer POP unit deals
with any problem that is viewed to affect the community. Not surprisingly,
the unit spends the greatest amount of time investigating street level narcotics
within the township. Other "problems" the unit has been involved with include
auto break-ins, auto thefts, and prostitution in the busy 1-80/S.R.46 area.
As the township nears the turn of the century and the dawn of a new millennium,
the Austintown Police District will face new challenges and change. As of
June 1998, the department consists of 40 officers and the Chief of Police.
In Memory of:
George T. Lamb
Randolph M. Truslow
Milo A. Whetstone
Randall N. Mitchell
Leonard W. Miller
About the History of Law Enforcement in Austintown
The research into the history of law enforcement
in Austintown was begun in 1991 as a project by the Austintown Fraternal
Order of Police Lodge 126 Richard D. Baker, Secretary-Treasurer of Lodge
126, has continued research, and compiled a short version of what is hoped
to be a much more detailed effort. Many people have generously cooperated
and or contributed articles, photos and other items to assist the author
in this effort.
Special thanks to:
Mahoning County Board of Elections
Austintown Township, Clerks Office
Austintown Township, Zoning Office
Ken Zinz "An Interview with James H Hazlett Jr. " by Ken Zinz
Personal memoirs of James H. Hazlett Jr.
Personal memoirs of Carole Powers
Personal memoirs of Richard Bullen
John E. Cannon, Chief of Police