During 2014, the Willoughby Police Department has not had any major changes in personnel other than the early and unexpected retirement of our Administrative Assistant.
In battling the opiate epidemic, Willoughby Police Department along with all other Lake County agencies were assisted by The Lake County Sheriff’s Office “Opiate Task Force.” The Task Force actively participates in the investigations of all types of crime where opiate abuse is directly or indirectly related. To date it has made a significant impact.
One of the most difficult crimes to investigate and/or prosecute are frauds through telecommunication. Many people receive emails, phone calls, even text messages that are very misleading. At times they may seem legitimate by being disguised as coming from the Internal Revenue Service, creditors, banks, or even appear to be relatives. We take reports yearly from victims who have lost money from this sort of crime. Most of the perpetrators are from foreign countries or conduct their scam in a way that is untraceable. The best advice is to ALWAYS take the time to confirm everything before sending money anywhere. When in doubt, call the police department and speak with an officer.
In closing, I would like to say that as I approach my three year mark as Chief, much has happened and there is still much to be done. The entire staff works together with the goal of operating in such a manner as to accomplish the mission of the department and better serve the community. As a native of Willoughby, I have a personal interest in the success of the Department and its effectiveness in carrying out our mission. To assist me with that, I want to encourage and increase two-way communication between the Willoughby Police Department, its personnel, and both the business and residential community.
Willoughby Police Department has an Awards Committee comprised of several employees within the Department. The committee reviews nominations and supporting documentation and may issue an award or refer the nominations to the Lake County Chiefs of Police Association.
For 2014, Detective Sergeant Matt Tartaglia was chosen as the Officer of the Year. He received nomination letters noting his exemplary work ethic, diligence, and compassion. Special Officer Chuck Popik was awarded the 2014 Special Officer of the Year award. In addition, the Special Officer of the Year Award was renamed the Jason Gresko Memorial Award in his honor. In 2009, a Civilian Employee of the Year was established. Communications Clerk Kim Thompson received this award for 2014. She was nominated for her dedication and exemplary work ethic.
Patrolman Shane Rahz and Sgt. Dan Pitts, along with Special Officer Gary Betzler are the Department’s motorcycle officers. Officers ride city-owned, specially equipped Harley Davidson Police Edition Road Kings. They are primarily used for handling traffic complaints in residential neighborhoods, although they are still assigned a zone and handle routine calls.
Patrolman Burrington and K-9 Rebel, and recent additions to the unit, Patrolman Matt Neath and K-9 Loki, continue to be active in the community, assisting with various arrests and playing important roles with tracking and suspect apprehensions. Additionally, they continue to make public appearances at city functions and festivals.