EAST LIVERPOOL - In a continuing effort to improve its services to the community, the city police department has joined two county agencies.
Chief John Lane said Friday an officer has been placed on the county drug task force (DTF), and the department will become a part of the county homicide investigation task force.
"I had to find a way to make it work with our scheduling," Lane said of joining the DTF.
In the past, Lane has said that while he wanted one of his officers on the DTF, his budget wouldn't allow it due to the overtime costs that would result by having an officer off the streets and filling in for him.
He said Friday that the $10,000 being provided by the county to community police departments desiring to have an officer on the task force will allow him to put on an officer part-time, with no effect on the department's schedule.
It is the Review's policy to not name DTF officers, but one of the city department's detectives will be reassigned to the task force on Mondays and Thursdays, which Lane said will not result in any short shifts.
"It will definitely be a benefit to have someone on the drug task force. (Director Brian) McLaughlin does a good job," Lane said, adding it also benefits his department by having one of his officers bring back what he learns from working with the other DTF officers.
The detective moving to the task force will be replaced by officer Greg Smith, who will be the department's second detective, working alongside veteran detective Don Fickes. Both will start their new duties Monday.
Smith has been a police officer six years, the last three with the East Liverpool department.
Lane said he chose Smith for the detective's position based on his performance, despite him being relatively new to the city force.
"Not just everybody can do that job. I worked with him several years on midnight (shift) and I know what kind of an officer he is. I watch reports and chose someone I think will be successful," Lane said, saying Smith has a good work ethic and that, even if he stays in the detective position just one year, he will benefit greatly from what he will learn from Fickes.
"Donnie is an exceptional detective," Lane said.
He said the younger officers on his force will be able to learn from the veteran officers before they retire by giving them these opportunities.
Both detectives will be part of the homicide investigation task force.