BY MIKE McCARTHY | MIRROR EDITOR — Five new police officers have joined the Maumee Police Division this year and all five will be busy continuing their various levels of training throughout the month of February.
Among the five new officers are two experienced lateral transfer officers, two cadets and one academy-certified police officer who has only to wait until she reaches her 21st birthday this weekend to begin her field training with the MPD next week.
Maumee Police Chief Josh Sprow and Assistant Police Chief Mike Love introduced the new officers at the January 17 meeting of Maumee City Council to a warm round of applause.
Of the five, the most experienced police officer is Michelle Carlucci, who grew up in this area before moving to Scottsdale, Ariz., where she served for over 11 years in the Scottsdale Police Department.
Cassius Williams served one year with Metroparks Toledo as a certified Ohio peace officer before joining the Maumee Police Department.
Tess Trombley has already earned her police academy certification but must wait until her 21st birthday on Sunday before she is eligible to serve as a police officer in the state of Ohio. Trombley received her law enforcement education and certification at The University of Toledo and Owens Community College. She is scheduled to begin her field training with MPD on February 14.
Cadets Melissa Echler and Chase Keller will pursue their training at the Ohio State Highway Patrol police academy starting on February 13. This will be the first time a Maumee police officer has received training from the Ohio State Highway Patrol since Love graduated from the OSHP academy in 2007.
In addition to her dream of becoming a full-time Maumee police officer, Echler is serving as a firefighter and EMT in the Maumee Fire Department.
The MPD hired the five new officers following a testing process held earlier this year. This marks the first time that the Maumee Police Division has hired this many new officers at one time, breaking the previous record of four, according to Love.
“We actually had more individuals take our test once we opened it up to lateral transfers and non-OPATA (Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy) certified individuals,” Love stated.
Due to the increased competition among local police departments to attract quality police candidates, the Maumee Police Division is one of many departments willing to pay for the police academy training for new cadets, Love explained.
Like many other suburban communities, Maumee utilizes the National Testing Network to test and screen potential police candidates. Maumee sets its own qualification requirements, and the candidates must meet or exceed that testing score in order to qualify for employment consideration.
Qualified candidates turn in their applications with MPD and undergo an interview, a physical, a stress test and a psychological evaluation before they meet the necessary criteria for consideration.
“Once we get down to those qualified individuals, we are then able to make a decision on who we want to hire from that candidate pool,” Love explained.
Love said that the latest test resulted in a field of 20 qualified candidates. The previous test last year had resulted in just 12.
Local transfers such as Carlucci and Williams will not enjoy any seniority on the Maumee police force, but their accumulated service time will make them eligible for a greater level of vacation time and a higher pay scale than rookie officers fresh out of the academy, Love explained.
For the new officers who are already certified, their training begins with the first month in-house, where they spend their time at the Maumee police station, qualifying with firearms and undertaking various other aspects of police training. “They work at obtaining the necessary certificates and certifications prior to actually hitting the road and learning how to do their jobs,” Love said. During this time, the new officers’ police uniforms are ordered.
Once in uniform, the officers move on to their field training. “Usually, it’s a four-month process for them to go through the field training once they hit the road,” Love said. “It’s a five-month process when you look at that first month as in-house.”
The new officers are mentored and guided by field training officers (FTOs) during their road training.
There are three phases of training, Love stated.
“The first phase is the initial phase when they are trying to figure out how Maumee does things. That takes a month. The FTO is usually doing 90 percent of the work and the trainee is doing 10 percent,” Love explained.
“Then it moves to phase two, where it’s about 60 percent FTO and 40 percent trainee,” Love continued.
“By the third phase, the trainee should have a really good grasp of what’s going on and it should be 90-10 the other way.”
In each of the three 21-day phases, the trainees are gaining experience while also working a different shift: days, afternoons and midnights.
Love said at the end of those three phases of training, the officers are subjected to two four-day weeks known as “ghost weeks,” in which they perform their duties with no input or assistance from their accompanying FTO, who is now serving in strictly an observational capacity. The FTO does not step in or interact unless there is a rare situation when someone may be hurt or when there is a liability issue involved.
“Otherwise, the officers are making their own decisions; they’re doing their job and they are being evaluated,” Love stated.
During “ghost week,” the new officers are returning to their original FTO for final evaluation. “They saw you when you knew nothing, and now they get to see a completely different officer,” Love stated.
“The hardest thing for a new officer is orientation to the city, knowing the streets,” Love revealed.
To assist in this effort, the officers are required to possess and reference a hard copy of a map of the city, which is laminated and stored under the driver’s side visor of their patrol cars.
Even though each patrol car is equipped with a mobile data terminal (MDT), the hard-copy map requirement is included as part of the training in case the MDT is disabled for some reason.
“If you don’t know where you’re going, you are expected to pull over and find it yourself because you can’t rely on the MDTs if we have a situation where they go down,” Love explained. “You better know how to get there in that situation.”
Love said that Williams and Carlucci should be patrolling on their own by mid-May. Trombley will follow about a month later.
Echler and Keller should graduate from their six months of OSHP academy training in mid-August. Following graduation, they will undergo their field training with MPD, which will take them through the end of this year and into January of next year.
Love said that with the addition of the five new officers and the retirements of longtime officers, the Maumee Police Department has gotten younger over the past few years.
Maumee is two officers short of its desired staff strength of 39 officers. The department consists of 37 officers, including the chief, assistant chief, captain, seven sergeants and three detectives.
Love said that he and Chief Sprow would like to continue to foster the positive relationship that the police department enjoys with the community. He said the department is open to such ideas as public safety forums and the formation and development of an organized communitywide block watch program. Good ideas are always welcomed by the department, Love stated.
“We love our community here,” Love declared. “It’s a beautiful town and a great community. We’ve had nothing but support from Maumee and that’s great to see. We couldn’t ask for a better community to serve.”