An auxiliary police force will be added to the Genoa Police Department.
Village council recently approved the hiring of five or six auxiliary policemen at the request of Mayor Mark Williams.
The unit, whose members are expected to work at least eight hours per month, will complement the service of the officers currently on staff.
The department currently has a chief, three full-time officers and three part-time officers that provide service 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Auxiliary officers’ main duties will include manning parades, festivals, races and park detail during sports tournaments. Their presence will help free up the regular force on patrol at the time of the special events
“I hope to bring them on board by the new year,” Chief Bob Bratton said. But the chief notes he’ll be careful not to overuse the officers. He’s not trying to present a show of force in the town.
“I don’t want an overkill. I don’t want to be showing too many officers for a small community. That’s not what this is about,” he said. “We need officers that are community minded to carry out community policing.”
The auxiliary unit is about providing assistance to the main police force.
Genoa had an auxiliary police unit years ago but it fell to the wayside, according to Village Administrator Kevin Gladden.
The new unit can also provide a pool of possible candidates when other job openings come up, Bratton said. Auxiliary members through their service with the police department become familiar with the department routines, paperwork and computer systems.
Certified officers will be sought for the auxiliary unit. Those people, both men and women, have taken law enforcement classes at area police academies and passed the qualifying tests.
Most of the applicants, he said, have good private sector jobs. But they have certified police officer status and still want to use those skills occasionally, the chief explained.
The hiring process for police officers was called into question in late summer.
Bratton and Williams began interviews after a part-time officer resigned because of the demands of his other job. In August, based on the mayor’s recommendation, council approved part-time officers Cody Garcia and Aimee Bixler.
Whether other officials should have been included in the interviews of potential village employees became a lively topic of several council meetings in late summer. Safety Committee Chairman Daryl Bittner said he would appreciate more communication with the mayor prior to Williams’ making his hiring recommendations before council.
Council’s personnel committee even drafted an ordinance to change the Genoa Municipal Code regarding the process. The ordinance, however, has not been completed.
Williams contends he and the chief followed the Ohio Revised Code regarding conducting interviews and hiring.
“I make the appointments and council can approve it or not,” he said. The mayor did concede, however, the oversight in not keeping Bittner up-to-date in the matter.
The mayor said he believes full council input is necessary in more high profile positions. For instance, he said, council was involved when the village sought a new police chief in 2011.
Bratton, who left his then position as Ottawa County sheriff, set out to retool the department mired in turmoil created under the previous administration. That dissent culminated into several investigations, including workplace harassment, brought to light by several high-ranking officers.
Bratton’s concentration over the past two years has been on improving staff training and morale, updating equipment and building better relationships with both residents and the business community.
Despite the fact the new personnel ordinance has not been approved, Bratton said he wants to “abide by council’s wishes” and include council members in all of his department’s interview processes.
Although, he said, trying to coordinate that many schedules can be a chore.
Bratton has settled on Saturday interviews, which offers other village leaders the best scheduling opportunity to meet candidates.
“That’s looking like the best way to go,” the chief said.