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Q&A: Sandusky Police Chief John Orzech

Andy Ouriel • Apr 17, 2013 at 8:00 AM

Sandusky’s new top cop, is eager to embrace the many challenges his department will inevitably face in the months and years ahead.

He said he’s ready to lead, whether it’s spearheading programs to curb violence or working to restore the police department’s image. 

“I’ve very excited about the opportunity,” Orzech said. “We have a great group of officers who are passionate about the job right now. It’s been reinvigorating to see that.”

Click here for a photo gallery of Orzech being sworn in. 

City manager Nicole Ard appointed Orzech to the $87,000-a-year police chief’s spot about two weeks ago. He’ll oversee all police activities, including supervising about 45 full-time offices.

Orzech met up with the Register recently to discuss his blueprint for success and other matters. 

Question: What is the greatest challenge facing Sandusky today that you want to overcome?

Answer: We need to increase manpower and staffing levels to deal with situations that will become prevalent in the summertime. The violence and alcohol-related incidents pick up then. Being able to keep offers as safe as possible when they are going into these situations and making sure they have all the tools that they need is important.


Question: Are weapons-related incidents a particular problem in Sandusky?

Answer: We know the weapons are out there. It’s not only the weapons being discharged, but the weapons that are on people are also concerning.


It was a long road to the selection of John Orzech as police chief. Get the recap and find out how much it cost in today's Register. Click here for the ePaper, for home delivery or buy the Register daily at a newsstand near you. 


Question: Is illegal drug usage a particular problem in Sandusky?

Answer: Illegal drugs are definitely here. At the end of 2012, we started using one full-time narcotics officer to do drug investigations and assigning another officer at the end of the shift to help out.


Question: During the past several years, many officers have been fired or suspended for conduct deemed detrimental to the department. What can you do to ensure these situations don’t occur during your tenure?

Answer: Right now, our goal is to provide pride, professionalism, accountability and respect. Those are the goals and message we are sending out to members of our department. I want the department to go back to the way it used to be. When I started, cops wanted to come work in Sandusky because this was a good department, and that is what we want to shoot for now.


Question: How do you regain the community’s trust that the officers and staff working for you are 100 percent ethical?

Answer: The trust is better now. There are different elements in place that caused those issues to arise. I don’t really want to go backward. I want to go forward. We are going to reach out to anybody and have an open-door policy for anyone to let us know what we can do to make our agency better and to be seen in a better light.


Question: A $62,500 study commissioners paid for and received in summer 2011 bashed the police department for several inefficiencies, including lack of leadership. What is the status of implementing all of the study’s recommendations?

Answer: Most of the tasks that we as an agency can accomplish, we have. There are a lot of tasks that require money and financing, and that is out of our hands.


Question: City Hall, where the police station is located at 222 Meigs St., is nearly a 60-year-old building. Is this property suitable for your needs, or do you want to move elsewhere?

Answer: The building’s adequate, but it’s not really conducive to a modern-day policing agency. Ideally we would like everything to be on one floor and have our offices downstairs. On moving, that will be up to the commission. We are going to have to work within the confines of where we are for now. If we had an unlimited budget, we’d like a new facility.


Question: Most shifts are scheduled so officers mostly work 12-hour days. Are you seeking to change this policy?

Answer: (The $62,500 study) recommended to keep 12-hour shifts. They are working good for us. The employees like them. If we go back to eight-hour shifts, it will add more burden. We’d also have to pay shift differential, which we don’t have to pay right now. (Note: On eight-hour shifts, Sandusky police officers had received extra pay for working afternoons, nights and early mornings. Extra pay for shift differential under the 12-hour format doesn’t exist today.)


Question: Funding for the police department continues to shrink, including a 4 percent drop from 2011 to 2012, or about $4.39 million. Will you push for a tax levy to help offset the budget crunch?

Answer: I’ll divert that question to others who make that decision.


Question: With few minorities and women on your staff, what will you do to enhance opportunities for more diversity in Sandusky police’s roster?

Answer: We would love to hire more minorities. We hired a Hispanic and woman during the last process. But there aren’t a lot of minorities taking the test and that creates problems. We are controlled by the civil service. We give out a test every two years and it’s all based on ranking and scoring. We are only allowed to take the Top 10 names (or scores) on a potential list of up to 80 candidates. Of those 10 names, you can pick one name to hire.


It was a long road to the selection of John Orzech as police chief. Get the recap and find out how much it cost in today's Register. Click here for the ePaper, for home delivery or buy the Register daily at a newsstand near you. 

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