Signing Off – From Chief Michael T. Lazor
After 17 years and a couple hundred Courier articles, this will be the last one that I write as Chief of Police for the Willowick Police Department. As of April 4th, I will have retired from the service with 33 years. Surprisingly, over the years, there were only a handful of times I did not submit an article. The hardest part for me was finding something to write about. Once I had a topic, the words seem to come fairly well.
As I reminisce, I remember the variety of articles I was writing. Some were informative; some, hopefully entertaining; and some were trying to introduce you to the members of the Willowick Police Department, past and present.
My bias may be showing, but I truly believe the City of Willowick is fortunate to have one of the best police departments in the area, officers and dispatchers. Over the past 17 years, I have hired over half of the staff, 13 officers and 4 dispatchers. I have also had to help bury 9 of our retired officers, many of whom I served with.
They are part of an extended family that allowed me to share both their triumphs and sometime tragedies. In their future, I offer them my friendship and continued support. My closing is a thank you to the citizens of Willowick for allowing me to serve and gratitude to my comrades in arms for, without them, this department would not have been as successful or outstanding as it has become. Adieu and God bless.
The men and women of the Willowick Police Department are committed to enhancing the quality of life within the city, through a high level of professional service, we shall protect life and property, ensure a safe and secure environment, and work together with the public to serve the needs and protect the rights of all. This organization shall base its operations and judge its performance by the following values: Integrity, Commitment, Teamwork, and Fairness.
Chief John Polly 1925
About the Willowick Police Department
Willoughby-on-the-Lake became the Village of Willowick in 1923 with a population of approximately 300 people. John J. Polly is considered the first Chief Constable / Chief of Police and worked for the village in this capacity from around 1920 until 1941. Official police protection was begun in 1924. Polly’s successor was Robert T. Collins, who was hired in 1936. Collins was Chief of Police from 1941 until his retirement in 1973. He was Police Chief when Willowick became a City in 1956 and throughout Willowick’s greatest period of growth from 1946 to 1959. The police department also began to expand in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s to meet the new demands of expansion. Chief Collins is considered, by many, to be the “Father” of today’s police department.
In 1934, the first police station was in a 3 story house at the intersection of Lakeshore Blvd. and Vine St. and part of the Village Hall. In 1948, a building was constructed at 31230 Vine St. which housed the City Hall, Police and Fire Depts. The modernization of the Police Department occurred when it moved to its current location at the Municipal Safety Center at 30435 Lakeshore Blvd. in December of 1976.
We currently are allotted a complement of 23 full time sworn officers. This includes the Chief of Police, 2 Lieutenants, 4 Sergeants, 2 Detectives and 14 patrol officers. Two officer positions were eliminated in the past 5 years through attrition as a result of the economic recession. One of those had been a School Resource Officer that was originally created in 2003 from a COPS grant.
We also have a civilian staff of 9 dispatchers. A victim assistance program had been started in 2004 through a grant from the State of Ohio. However the 2 part time advocates that were hired were let go in 2008, again due to economic issues. A K9 unit was established in 2006. Officer Daniel Hirz and his canine partner, Jager, are assigned to regular patrol duties.
The Willowick Police Department is involved in a number of public relation programs. Sgt. Carol Ice has taught the DARE program (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) in the schools since 1992.
First Willowick K9
S.O.W. 2006 – E.O.W. 2014
Western Lake County SWAT
We offer seat belt instruction to 3rd graders, do child safety seat instructions for parents, conduct Halloween safety talks giving away reflective candy bags, provide free gun locks to residents, and annually host the Officer Phil Safety program in the schools.
Willowick is part of a 6 city ERT (Emergency Response Team), comprised of SWAT officers and Crisis Negotiators who respond to emergency situations on a mutual aid basis. This unit was begun in Willowick in 1987.
The Police Department has a computer network that utilizes a CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch system that is provided by Sundance Systems Inc.) and a RMS (Records Management System). We have (7) MDTs (Mobile Data Terminals), all of which are in our marked cruisers and tied into our internal network.