Groveport Police facing the challenges of retirements and changes in crime

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By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Editor

Messenger photo by Rick Palsgrove
A couple of Groveport Police officers on bicycle patrol.

The Groveport Police Department will enter a time of transition as experienced officers soon retire and new ones come aboard.

The department has a staff of 25 full-time officers including a chief, captain, two lieutenants, three sergeants, three detectives, one school resource officer, a patrol operations liaison, and 13 patrol officers.

Losses and coming changes
Groveport Police Chief Casey Adams said law enforcement agencies everywhere are “losing officers at an alarming pace and unfortunately Groveport has not been immune from this wave of retirements.”

In 2021, Groveport Police lost three key members to retirement: Chief Ralph Portier, Sgt. Brian Thompson, and Sgt. Lou Chan.

“They had over 80 years of experience among the three of them, but their leadership experience was another loss to our community as they spent a majority of their careers leading the department and teaching future leaders how to engage the public with a smile along with a friendly word while out in the public,” said Adams.

He said in 2023 and 2024 the Groveport Police have four officers who are eligible to retire after serving for at least 25 years.

“These officers can remember when Groveport was a community with corn fields that have now transitioned to business districts,” said Adams. “This life of public service has taken a lot of time away from their family and friends during their careers, but not one of these officers regret the career choice they made to serve the city and the people who call

Groveport home and a place to work. Let’s face it, policing has evolved over the years. Officers remember when they worked patrol alone and policing has transformed from an enforcement first culture to a social worker type of environment to evaluate and identify ways to provide help when it comes to chemical dependency problems and mental health issues. We are fortunate to have these officers.”

Retirements mean losing experience
In 2023, if those who are eligible to retire do so, the department could lose anywhere from 25 to 75 years of experience. Adams said this experience ranges from criminal investigative work to senior leadership.

“The department is taking the next steps in leadership transition,” said Adams. “We have three new sergeants who took on responsibilities as first line supervisors and they allow us to look at the future and progress. Lt. Bary Murphy, who has over 30 years of experience, will be molding our detective bureau. Lt. Josh Short is working with the new patrol sergeants and patrol officers. Capt. Kurt Blevins helps me navigate the past hiring process, implementing updated policies, and looking at different ways to make sure our community receives the same high quality policing while we go through these transitions of finding and grooming new officers and leaders.”

Adams said promotions are an aspect of leadership in the department.

“We have a new detective who has less than two years of experience in the detective bureau, but he has already been part of and solved several large cases from property crimes to a homicide investigation,” said Adams.

He said the department is creating an eligibility list of candidates who could become the next generation of Groveport Police officers when current officers decide to retire in the next year. The new hiring campaign began Aug. 3 and will conclude Sept. 2.

“We want individuals with a strong work ethic, high moral character, strong communication skills, and who enjoy being part of the community policing philosophy that is the foundation of the department and is expected from the community,” said Adams.

Changing nature of crime in town
Recently the department has dealt with crimes that were uncommon in the area in the past, indicating there is a changing nature of crime in town. Some include:

•An individual who shot and killed his girlfriend at the S & K Food Distribution Center on Toy Road.

•The large scale vehicle catalytic converter theft investigation that involved hundreds of manpower hours of investigative work and surveillance.

•The confiscation of more than 1,000 pounds of marijuana from area warehouses where workers saw there was something unusual with the shipment containers.

“We will be as self sufficient as we can when it comes to handling these ‘big city crimes’ and we are patient when it comes to investigating large and small crimes and bringing those who chose to commit crimes in Groveport to justice,” said Adams.

Adams said the department is seeing an uptick in larger property crimes, like felony thefts, in the business districts.

“We have seen more firearms investigations and arrests from individuals coming to our community from Columbus and are possessing or using a firearm in a criminal act,” said Adams. “Since we hired the four new officers in the past year, they have brought a fresh perspective on looking for these types of crimes, taking enforcement action, and confiscating these firearms before they can be used in a more violent crime.”

Adams said all communities have seen an increase in large scale or violent crimes, but he feels Groveport is fortunate to have only been affected with a few cases.

“I attribute the minimization of these crimes in our community to an active patrol division that emphasizes being proactive and visible and an involved community who works with the police to ensure we can investigate and deter criminal activity before it takes place in the city,” said Adams.

Seasoned officers and new officers
Bringing in seasoned officers helps with the loss of experience through retirements.

“These experienced officers bring a fresh perspective and ideas that I appreciate to resolve our communities’ issues when it comes to criminal behavior, traffic enforcement, and societal concerns like mental health issues,” said Adams. “I also like sprinkling in individuals fresh out of the police academy or with little experience that you mold in the image the community wants from their police officers. Less experienced officers have not learned the negative aspects of policing, they have an energy that can influence co-workers and reignite the more experienced officers’ desire to give every call 100 percent to help individuals in need of our assistance.”

Adams encourages anyone who is a certified police officer in the State of Ohio, and who would be interested in applying to the department, to visit www.groveport.org.

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