Salem police add additional officer

SALEM – The city police force grew by one officer Tuesday, bumping the total number of personnel up to 20 with the hiring of Patrolman Craig Crider.

“This is the first additional policeman to be added to the force in a good many years,” Salem Mayor John Berlin said.

Crider comes to the city with more than seven years experience from the Goshen Police Department where he had been promoted to corporal in January. He had started out as a patrolman and also earned a promotion to detective.

A 2000 graduate of West Branch High School, he earned an associate’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Akron and earned his police officer certification at the Ohio Police Officer Training Academy at Youngstown State University.

Crider said he was always interested in law enforcement and liked the type of work police officers do.

He was accompanied to the swearing-in ceremony by his wife Jessica, who pinned on his new badge, and by his parents Dan and Linda Crider and his grandpa Keith McDonald. Berlin administered the oath. Several city officials, Police Chief J.T. Panezott, fellow police officers and a city firefighter attended the ceremony held in the mayor’s office.

The department has had several swearing-in ceremonies since Feb. 1, with the new chief, Panezott, taking the helm after the retirement of former Chief Bob Floor, and several other personnel moves, including the hiring of two other patrolmen to fill positions vacated by promotion or resignation.

Floor, Berlin and city Service/Safety Director Ken Kenst started laying the groundwork for increasing the size of the police force last year with the recommendation to create a special duty sergeant position.

The idea was to have the sergeant in that position serve full-time with the Columbiana County Drug Task Force and be able to have another sergeant replace that person as a shift supervisor so there would be five sergeants in the department instead of just four, allowing for the department to increase.

Panezott had been a sergeant assigned to the Drug Enforcement Administration. Sgt. Chris Gallo replaced him at the DEA, leaving an opening for a shift sergeant which was filled by a patrolman who was promoted to sergeant. That left one opening for a patrolman which was filled. Another patrolman resigned and his position was recently filled after a new civil service examination was held for patrolmen.

The hiring of Crider nearly finishes the moving around. All that’s left is for the sergeant working part-time as a shift supervisor and part-time with the DTF to go full-time with the DTF, then a patrolman will be promoted to sergeant as a shift supervisor.

For Berlin, the end result is that the city will have a full-time officer with the DTF again and the department will have 20 officers instead of 19.

They’ve also been interviewing candidates for the part-time police secretary position that Floor lobbied to have created and Panezott lobbied to have filled. The department’s full-time secretary was laid off a few years ago, with the workload falling on the chief and the administrative lieutenant.

Mary Ann Greier can be reached at