Whitehall cruisers going back to black and white

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Messenger photo by Dianne Garrett

Sgt. Dan Kelso stands behind the new black and white cruiser the Whitehall Police Department purchased for its fleet. All future vehicles will have the same design. Kelso said the change will make the lettering and numbers are more reflective than the current designs, which will provide more safety for officers in extreme weather conditions.

When you see a black, white and silver police cruiser in Whitehall neighborhoods, there is no television show being filmed, even though your first thought might be of "Adam-12" or "Car 54, Where Are You?," which were popular back when the city was still a fairly new community.

It is a new look with a nostalgic flavor, and it’s here to stay, according to Chief Richard Zitzke.

A few months ago, he decided the fleet needed a fresh look. So the chief poured over his issues of Law and Order magazine, as well as others.

He surveyed the officers for their input, and researched several companies and agencies for designs.

"Sergeant Randy Snider did part of the graphics, and he came up with the design for the current cruisers" about 15 years ago, said Zitzke.

The chief offered about six choices for a vote among the officers. He said that they were very excited about the change. They chose what they thought would reflect well on the city and the department.

Zitzke pointed out that with the silver highlights, the cruisers are more reflective. The word "police" and the car number are on all four sides. They are better seen in severe weather conditions, such as heavy fog, providing more officer safety.

Other cities going back to black and whites include Reynoldsburg, Gahanna, Powell and Upper Arlington.

The chief said that on occasion he hears from residents that they don’t see any cruisers patrolling their neighborhoods.

"The others just seem to blend in more, but I think they will notice these," commented Zitzke.

He feels that sometimes change is a very good thing. "We have several new officers, or fresh blood, and this has generated positive enthusiasm and excitement within our agency."

This change is not costing the city any additional money, noted the chief.

Promotion and commendations

The department has had a busy month. On Dec. 7, Officer Rex Adkins, a 16-year veteran, was promoted to sergeant. Adkins is the son of Judy and Roy Adkins, also longtime city employees.

During the same event, four officers received special commendations. Detective Chad Wilder has been with the department for five years. He was recognized for his contribution to the Drug Investigations Unit that has had a tremendous impact on local drug trade operations, averaging 3.5 cases per month over the past three years.

Officer Guy Grinstead was recognized for his personal bravery in pursuing an armed robbery suspect after being fired upon, and being instrumental in locating and arresting the suspect, bringing the dangerous incident to a successful conclusion. He is a seven-year veteran.

Officer Brian Smith was honored for saving a life.

A 911 caller could hardly speak, but did convey to the radio operator, Marc Lichtenstein, that she could not breathe. Lichtenstein assisted her in communicating her needs when the medical unit answered.

Smith was on patrol, and was dispatched to the residence. Arriving ten minutes before the medics, Smith located the 64-year-old woman in a chair, who was not breathing, was changing color and appeared lifeless.

Smith advised police radio he was beginning CPR. Without a protective mask, he gave oral respirations and revived the victim. The paramedics indicated that the action by Smith, did save her life.

Smith just celebrated his one-year anniversary with the department.

Auxiliary Officer Tammi Scott came on board two years ago, and was recognized for her time and effort assisting with the training of new officers, and being readily available to aid and assist many full-time officers with various projects vital to the mission of the department.

New crime alert program

The new Crime Alert program was also announced. It will alert businesses located within the city of criminal activity in their areas.

"The program is part of our ongoing efforts to work with businesses and residents to build a safer community," said Lt. Mark Newcomb. "Through this program, we’re using technology to keep businesses informed, and adding more watchful eyes against crime."

There is no additional cost involved to the city since it uses existing computer technology to develop and maintain an email database of businesses.

When police receive a report of specific criminal activity near commercial properties, participating local businesses will receive an email message about the Crime Alert, telling them about the crime, any information about the suspect and instructions to contact the police immediately if this suspect, or other suspicious activity, is seen.

Business owners are encouraged to share these alerts with their employees.

"Truly this is a 21st century version of a proven community policing principle. More eyes and ears working toward reducing crime builds a safer community," said Newcomb. "By using email, we can inform businesses much quicker."

There is no cost to businesses for participating in the program. Businesses simply provide their email addresses. Business owners who want to participate in the program, or who have suggestions on how the police and business community can work together on crime prevention, should contact Crime Prevention Officer Ed Rickels at 246-7428 or rer53@whitehallpolice.com.

Rickels also offers a free business security analysis.

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