The city’s police chief visited the Kiwanis Club on Tuesday afternoon to offer an update on the department’s successes and challenges.
“We see people at their baddest, maddest and saddest,” said Wooster Chief Matt Fisher, who started off his presentation with successes and new initiatives from the past year.
In 2016, the Wooster Police Department reinstated a community relations officer, created its Community Impact Unit, and has strived to get into the community more through friendlier interactions.
It has continued programs such as teaching local businesses and organizations about ALICE protocol and its Citizens Police Academy too.
But there are still unfortunate realities in today’s environment.
Fisher noted that the CIU officers work with the Medway Drug Enforcement Agency to get drugs out of the community, such as a recent search warrant on Brookside Drive. He added, that despite criticism, the amount of drugs found could be deemed a small amount, “that’s a loaded Uzi with the safety off. We got to get those things off the streets.”
A major challenge — besides social media and today’s media coverage of police officers — Fisher explained, is the lack of adequate people who apply for police work.
The chief recalled when he took the police test, there were 300 applicants and the testing was held at city garage to accommodate them all.
“In 2015, I gave a test and I had eight (applicants),” the chief said. “I want the best of the best … I’ll go without before I hire the wrong person.”
In Fisher’s six years as chief, he has hired 17 new officers. But noted the issue is not just seen in Wooster, but across the nation.
And looking forward, the department is “excited” to get into the new Safety Service Center “and have a little more space.”
By STEVEN F. HUSZAI Staff Writer