Goshen police add programs for seniors

GOSHEN TWP. – A turnover in command staff is not stopping the Goshen Police District from striving to meet the needs of the community.

The department is introducing two programs for the aged – Elderly Call and Senior Watch. Both programs are free of charge and being offered to residents within the department’s jurisdiction of Goshen and Green townships and Beloit village.

According to Police Chief Steve McDaniel, the department believes in a “neighbor helping neighbor” concept, working with neighborhood volunteers to strengthen relationships between neighbors and neighborhoods.

“There are a lot of elderly out there, and a lot of them don’t get checked on,” he said. “It’s important for (older) residents to have someone.”

McDaniel said that residents enrolled in the programs will be talking to Desk Officer Katie Glasser.

Elderly Call: Senior residents on the Elderly Call list will receive a telephone call between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. once a week on a designated day to check on their welfare. If no contact is made an officer will be sent to the home to check on the resident.

Senior Watch: Senior Watch is for residents who may need more help than others, those who may not have family or friends to check on or assist them. In this program, an officer will visit the resident one or more times each week to check on their welfare.

The programs begin May 1, but residents may sign up now. Family members or neighbors may register a resident, but the resident must be aware of it. Applications are available at the police department, 14003 W. South Range Road (state Route 165), between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The application asks for pertinent information and requests the resident to chose which program in which they want enrolled. The application is then entered into a database and a schedule will be set up based on the selected program. As part of the application process a site evaluation of the resident’s home will be completed by a police official to help determine any safety concerns or any special requirements needed at the residence.

A New Goshen

In just under a year, the department has seen an almost complete turnover of its command staff.

With the exception of McDaniel, who joined the staff in 1991 and took over as chief in 2009, and Glasser, who joined the staff in 2008, the other four commanding officers- Lt. Rob Wittensoldner (joined in 2004 and previously served as a corporal), Cpls. Karl Balasz (2005) and Nick Brent (2012) and Detective Matthew Beck (2011) plus full-time officer Kevin Ragan (2012)- were all promoted within the past year.

McDaniel said the turnover is a result of young officers moving on to larger departments, but that the openings have given others a chance to shine.

“We’ve lost a lot of good officers, but we’ve been able to replace them with good ones,” he said.

Currently Wittensoldner fills assistant chief duties; Balasz, officer supervision; Brent, DARE, school resource officer, juvenile cases, courts and Beloit; Beck, non-juvenile cases and investigations; and Glasser, office management. As chief, McDaniel works the road between 2 and 10 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The department also has 11 part-time officers and one reserve officer. Applications are always being accepted and can be obtained online at goshenpd.coma or in person during business hours.

McDaniel said he operates with an open door policy.

“Anyone with complaints or concerns is welcome to stop in or call,” he said.

The department covers Goshen and Green townships and Beloit village- policing Green since 2005 and Beloit since 1999. Cruisers include four Tahoes, a Caprice, an Expedition and a Charger, plus a DARE car.

Acknowledging a growth in local heroin traffic, McDaniel said the department continues to battle the drug issue while facing a shrinking budget. He said he is hoping to start a drug recognition program to help people suffering with drug problems, as well as a drug take back program seen in other communities.

The department has also seen an increase in sex crimes, but has had success in solving them quickly. Most recently a Green Township man was indicted by the Mahoning County Grand Jury on four life specification felony counts of rape of a 9-year-old girl.

“We’ve seen a decrease in taxes that’s squeezing our budget, but we have to continue to look for ways to do more with less,” he said.