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Published: Tuesday, 5/2/2006

Fostoria police ranks get thinner

FOSTORIA - The city's police force is losing 27 years of institutional memory this week with the retirement of longtime Capt. Phil Hobbs.

Captain Hobbs, who served as acting police chief in 2005 and this year before Chief John McGuire took over in February, will take off his badge on Thursday, Chief McGuire said yesterday.

The department also lost another captain, Rodger Wilson, who resigned last month.

Captain Hobbs' retirement will leave the department with only 18 officers, including Chief McGuire's position.

The department's authorized strength is 25.

Chief McGuire said the department has a list of 15 candidates certified by the civil service commission that it will draw from for replacements.

"We would like to hire five officers in five weeks," Chief McGuire said, acknowledging the timetable was optimistic.

The candidates are undergoing background checks.

In addition to the city police, sheriffs' offices in each of the three counties that comprise Fostoria have assigned one deputy to a "zero tolerance" task force.

The deputies' wages and benefits and the costs of supplying each of them with a car are being covered by the Greater Fostoria Community Foundation, which has pledged up to $195,000 for each of the next three years.

Organizers said the task force was designed to be a supplement to the police department until the force returns to the number of people needed on the street.

The police department was involved in an ex-tensive recruiting campaign that included police academies, police departments, e-mail contacts, and other means to build up an eligibility list, the chief said.

Chief McGuire added that his department has put out feelers with police departments "between Toledo and Cleveland," where he worked as a school police officer before taking the Fostoria position.

Starting pay in Fostoria is $15.97 an hour, with a five-step salary increase, Chief McGuire said.



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