LIBERTY Police chief retools unit

Liberty residents will notice a change in uniforms.
LIBERTY -- Police Chief Anthony Slifka has reorganized his department, making changes the public probably won't notice, but other changes are on the way that definitely will be noticed.
Slifka, who took over the department in August, said he made the moves this month to free him from administrative duties and increase efficiency.
Under the former organization, Capt. James Cerenelli was in charge of the patrol division and Capt. Michael Pilolli, the former chief, was responsible for the detective bureau.
Responsibility for the remainder of department operations didn't have direct supervision, so oversight fell to the chief.
Changes: Under the reorganization, Cerenelli is in charge of operations, including patrols, criminal investigations and juvenile cases.
As the captain in charge of support services, Pilolli oversees dispatching, the jail, training, grants, property room, records and budgeting.
There has always been friction between patrol officers and detectives. Now that its under one captain, it should be eliminated, the chief said.
Slifka is directly responsible for drug investigations and community-oriented policing.
With moving responsibility for many activities out of the chief's office, Slifka said, it allows him to get out of the office and into the community.
"This is going to help me, definitely," said Slifka, a Hubbard native who has moved to Liberty.
The changes are the result of meetings every two weeks with Slifka's captains and sergeants, riding with the officers and going on calls with them.
Uniforms: The uniforms are changing as well.
Uniformed officers are no long required to wear hats, except at special ceremonies and events.
When they do wear hats, they will not longer be the Smokey the Bear hats similar to those worn by the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
Instead, officers will wear the traditional eight-point blue caps when required.
Slifka said officers can't pay as much attention to their duties while fumbling with the large round-brimmed hats.
In the summer months, officers will have the option of wearing walking shorts and polo shirts or the standard blue uniform.
A new arm patch has been designed by Patrol Officer Chad McGary. The patriotic design displays the top portion of the Statute of Liberty superimposed over the American flag.
Slifka said the reorganization has allowed him to meet with citizens groups and organizations to find out what types of police services they need.
Because of nagging internal problems within the department before he was named chief, Slifka said police relations with residents, as well as throughout the Mahoning Valley, had been severed.
The chief said he believes that by spending more time talking to the public, the relationship will be restored.