MAHONING VALLEY Area police agencies plan to create driver training course

The course at Canfield Fairgrounds should be complete summer's end.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Area police chiefs are looking to a new annual training program and proposed area for continued police driver training to help keep officers on top of the intricate business of law enforcement.
Jeffrey Patterson, Boardman Township police chief, said 11 departments in Mahoning County have come together in an effort to place a driver training area for police officers at the Canfield Fairgrounds. The area would be toward the south end of the fairgrounds by Leffingwell Road.
"We spend more time driving than shooting and we annually train and qualify with our guns, but not our cars," said Patterson. Vehicles are "a tool we use everyday and it carries with it certain responsibilities and liabilities, so it's only reasonable that we train with it."
According to Patterson, officers will use the 101,000-square-foot proposed training area for maneuverability exercises done at lower speeds.
What's planned
The fairgrounds will use the area as a handicapped parking lot when it is not being used by police. There is already a 270-by-231-foot paved area on the site that would be expanded for the project.
The driving area should be complete by the end of summer.
The project will cost an estimated $153,524. The involved departments have applied for a $105,504 grant through the Mahoning County Green Team because recycled material will be used.
Patterson said the remaining $48,000 will be divided among participating departments. He said Canfield, Springfield, Campbell, Beaver, Goshen, Poland Township, New Middletown, Mahoning County Sheriff's Department and Youngstown State University police departments, and the Mahoning Valley Chiefs of Police association have each agreed to give $2,500 to the program. Boardman Township has pledged up to $10,000 and additional funds will come from the Canfield Fairgrounds.
Should the grant not be accepted, Patterson said, the project will still be completed. He said the participating departments will "figure out another way." He did not give any details as to backup plans for funding.
New course
The driver's training area coincides with a new 40-hour annual in-service training course offered by the peace officer training academy at YSU. Officers from departments participating in that training course will get a full day of driving instruction at the course.
The list of departments signed on for the 40-hour training course differs from that of the departments that are funding the construction of the driver training area -- with the exception of Boardman, Poland and Beaver townships. Patterson said departments taking the 40-hour course will get eight hours of training on the driving course. Departments contributing to its funding can make use of the driver course at their own discretion.
The in-service training course will also include firearms qualifications and deadly force review, control tactics and use of force review, legal issue update, and contemporary issues in law enforcement.