By MORGAN MANNS
For the first time in six years, Fostoria Police Division has added three new officers to its ranks.
And for the first time since the late 1990s-early 2000s, one of those officers is a female.
To kick off National Police Week — which began Sunday and lasts through Saturday — the city hosted a swearing-in ceremony in recognition of its three new police officers: Brian Miller, Brooks Hall and Jennifer Muro.
With family and fellow officers in attendance, each one was sworn in by Mayor Eric Keckler before a loved one pinned a badge to their uniform.
“They’ve been doing a wonderful job,” police Chief Keith Loreno collectively addressed their families Monday after the ceremony. “They’re a great fit for Fostoria.”
The trio began their duties with FPD on March 12 and will soon be wrapping up their 90-day field training program. Since their first day on the job, they have been working alongside the more seasoned officers who are certified in field training, taking calls and getting a feel for Fostoria.
As a resident of the area for many years — including Bradner and Tiffin and, as of a month ago, Fostoria — Muro, 30, said she hopes to change the way people look at the city.
“A lot of people I talk to think this place is a dump and it’s not,” she said. “I want to help people not associate those two things with one another. I want to give people a better outlook on the city.”
She attended Owens Community College in Findlay and said personal experiences in her life led her to the field.
“I have experience on the personal side and now I have experience on this side so I hope to be someone that someone else can look up to,” she said.
Miller, 41, was a police officer with another police department in Ohio for 10 years before starting his position in Fostoria. After serving in the Army for three years, he said he wanted to find something he could do to make a difference.
“I want to be as good an officer as I can be and do the best job I can do,” he said. “I want to do my part to be a good officer to the public and my fellow officers.”
Miller lives in Perrysburg with his wife, Dawn, and their several children.
A New Riegel resident, Hall, 25, said he also hopes to make a positive impact on the community.
“I want to continue to build the relationship with the community that’s already been built,” he said. “I’m a young guy and I plan to be proactive.”
He worked as a probation officer with the Tiffin-Fostoria Municipal Court for a year and a half and as a road deputy with the Seneca County Sheriff’s Office for about nine months before taking his position with the FPD.
He received his Bachelor’s Degree from Tiffin University and attended Terra State Community College for police academy.
“I had really good role models growing up. I wanted to be in a career field where I could do the most good for the most people,” he said, adding, “I feel I’ve gotten a good feel of the community. It’s got a lot of good people and some great guys on the police department. I’m looking forward to working with them.”
These hires are the first three of four positions needed to be filled since the passing of the tax levy in November to replace Jonathan Bryant, Trey Farabee, Nate Elliott and Travis Ricker, who all left FPD within the last three years to take law enforcement positions elsewhere.
Plans to add more officers to the FPD roster immediately got underway in 2017 after voters showed their support for the city’s safety forces by approving a 6-mill property tax levy.
The levy was a key component in the city’s five-year financial recovery plan, which was designed to get Fostoria out of fiscal emergency by 2022. The city was placed in fiscal emergency by State Auditor Dave Yost in May 2016.
Levy failure would have resulted in the layoff of four police officers, two firefighters and two police clerks. Losing that many officers would have dropped the roster down to 14, not including the chief.
Other officers with Fostoria Police Division include Capt. Patrick Brooks (1995), Capt. Dan Dell (1998), Sgt. Kent Reinbolt (1998), Sgt. William Campbell (2007), Sgt. Clayton Moore (1986), Det. Brandon Bell (2008), Ptlm. Shilo Frankart (2000), Gabriel Wedge (2005), Cory Brian (2005), Evan Ely (2007), Lucas Elchert (2007), Brett Bethel (2007), Chad Marchetto (2008), Adam Nelson (2008), Colin Taggart (2008), Justin Kiser (2008) and Don Dennis (2000).
The division also has two canine officers: Riky, who is 11 years old, and Marley, who is 5 years old.
“We certainly needed the additional officers,” Loreno said. “It’s been stressful for those working additional hours to cover those shifts. I’m excited for them to finish their field training and to begin to fill in those shifts as needed.”
Following the brief ceremony, Keckler read a proclamation in honor of National Police Week, recognizing law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty, as well as those who continue to risk their lives day after day.
Cake and refreshments were then served for the officers and their families in celebration of the new hires as well as the kick off to National Police Week.