From our December 2017 issue.

In the 20 or so years that Scott Pflug has been a policeman, police work has changed significantly.

“The attitude toward police, the level of respect, especially from the younger generations is actually getting much worse,” said Pflug, a Brookfield cop. “The drug problem that we have continues to rise.”

Despite these negative changes, Pflug continues to suit up for Brookfield – for free.

Pflug is a reserve officer. Typically, reserves are men and women looking to build experience so they can get a paid part-time or full-time job. Pflug started down that track – he initially worked part time for Brookfield — but got off it.

Pflug got a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice with a minor in computer science at Youngstown State University. While in college, he attended the police academy.

“Early on in my career, it changed into doing computer crimes,” said the 42-year-old Austintown resident. “I focused on the computer security aspects of that and that took my career in that direction.”

Pflug works full time as chief information security officer for First National Bank of Pennsylvania, Hermitage. He’s head of a department that seeks to prevent identity theft, account hacking and related nefarious activity.

But, he enjoys police work and has put in about 15 non-consecutive years with Brookfield, mostly as a reserve.

“The two have always kind of blended together,” he said of being a cop and information security officer. “They’re both investigatory. I constantly draw correlations from my other job over to this.”

As a reserve officer, Pflug has the same powers as a full-time or part-time policeman, said Police Chief Dan Faustino.

“I carry a firearm, all the same equipment, all the same access to LEADS information,” Pflug said, referring to the Law Enforcement Automated Data System, the repository that includes information on driving records, warrants and stolen property.

Pflug, who typically works 16 hours a month, must qualify with a firearm every year and undertake whatever training is required by the department.

“Probably the only crime I’ve not seen in 15 years is an actual murder,” he said.

The not knowing what he will face when he climbs into a cruiser is part of the appeal to keep working as a police officer, Pflug said.

“This gets me out, allows me to drive around and interact with people,” said Pflug, who considers his reserve work giving back to the community. “I like interacting with people and having good communications.”

Pflug has helped the department investigate computer-related crimes, but noted, “Typically, we don’t have a lot of computer cases out here. We just haven’t had many in the years that I’ve been here. With many investigations, that require specialized training, most of the Ohio departments now work very closely with BCI, (the Ohio) Bureau of Criminal Investigations, and they would engage BCI for the forensics and things.”

Pflug said he enjoys the camaraderie among the officers in Brookfield.

“No one’s afraid to call each other if they’re in need of something,” he said. “It’s a close group. Not a lot of us and it’s a good group.”

A married father of six with a full-time job elsewhere in an era when police are not respected like they used to be, Pflug said he constantly examines how long he wants to maintain his free service to Brookfield. For now, he’s going to stick with it.

“I love doing this,” he said. “I just love contributing to helping the community be better, safer.”