“We’re good at responding to emergencies,” Brookfield Police Chief Dan Faustino said. “We’re good at planning and trying to make sure you’re safe. We’re terrible at trying to preserve our history and do records.”

Faustino is taking steps to preserve the department’s history in the last months before he retires, and part of that effort was a March 14 presentation to the Brookfield Historical Society.

“This was not an easy task trying to put something together, but it’s long overdue and I think it’s kind of important that we remember the past that we’ve had, those that got us started, where we’ve been,” Faustino said.

Prior to the creation of the department, constables policed the township, patrolling or responding to emergencies from their homes, he said. The Trumbull County Sheriff’s Department also served the township.

In 1975, voters passed a levy to create a full-time police department, which began operation on June 1.

The first police station was the two-story building that stands on the east side of Route 7 north of Brookfield Township Cemetery. John Collins was the first chief. A decorated Vietnam vet and native of Key West, Fla., Collins also taught in the criminal justice program at Youngstown State University. 

“When I was young, my dad would stop – we’d be going up to Blaney Lumber – and he’d stop in, see who was working,” Faustino said.

His dad, Fred, was a captain of detectives for Liberty Police Department.

“Kind of left an impression going in there, the old Mayberry-type thing with the (single jail) cell and all that,” Faustino said.

Collins left on June 30, 1976, to pursue a law degree, and was replaced by Ernest Cook, who was hired July 1.

Cook wrote a successful grant application for the building of a new police station at the end of Strimbu Drive, where the department is now headquartered. Cook resigned June 16, 1980, to change careers and was replaced by Gary Yonchak. 

“Didn’t go all that smoothly,” Faustino said of the transition. “There was a little dissent on his (Yonchak’s) hiring.”

The department moved into its new station during Yonchak’s time.

Jessie Riggleman became chief Dec. 1, 1982, the day after Yonchak resigned. He hired Faustino as a part-time officer in 1985.

Dan Faustino

Dan Faustino

On Dec. 23, 1985, Kenneth Hudak was named acting chief, and Riggleman officially resigned Feb. 7, 1986.

On June 1, 1986, Tom Jones was hired as chief. Jones’ tenure was one of increased visibility for the department for positive and negative reasons.

Bob Fabrey, a martial arts trainer, created a series of police training videos featuring Brookfield cops, and the force also was featured in an episode of the television show “Top Cops.” It was also during Jones’ time that an addition was built onto the police station, creating a garage for up to 10 cars and additional office space.

The department investigated probably the most publicized murder in township history when Kenneth Biros killed Tami Engstrom on Feb. 7, 1991. The investigation stretched the department’s resources and it fell to Faustino, who had recently returned to the department as a full-time officer after serving in the military and briefly with Weathersfield Police Department, to inform Engstrom’s family that not only had she been killed but she had been dismembered.

“I had choice words for my chief and another chief and the prosecutor for it,” Faustino said.

After a highly publicized trial, Biros was convicted of capital murder and eventually was executed, the first person executed by lethal injection using a single drug, Faustino said.

Jones and three members of his command staff were indicted and convicted of crimes related to the bugging of the police department. The officers were “trying to keep the union from coming in,” Faustino said.

In 1990, the Ohio Police Benevolent Association had released a report that “We were the lowest-paid full-time department in the state of Ohio at that time,” Faustino said.

Following the convictions, Jones was demoted to captain, fired and rehired after a court decision. He resigned on April 5, 1992. A retired Ohio Highway Patrol commander, Robert Speedy, was brought in as acting chief on Jan. 1, 1992.

Tim Gladis, who was looking to come north after serving in law enforcement in Virginia, was hired as chief, taking the oath of office on April 6, 1992. Gladis embarked on the lengthy process of removing the other three officers and rebuilding the department.

“We took a hit and it was hard to recover from,” Faustino said. “It was a rough time.”

Police department rank-and-file members voted to join the OPBA on Jan. 3, 1993.

During Gladis’ tenure, the department entered the computer age, acquiring its first records management system. Prior to that, there was one computer terminal that could only be used to find out who license plates were registered to.

In 1994, Trumbull County 911 went on line. For Brookfield, that meant the end of in-house call dispatching.

“Kind of a sad day,” Faustino said. “Building started getting locked up at 4 o’clock. It was a big adjustment for people wanting to come in. There was a lot of growing pains.”

In December of 1994, eyes were focused on Brookfield after many residents, including members of the police department, saw UFOs. The department was again the subject of a TV show concerning the sightings, and the department used a $1,000 donation from the producers to buy stop spikes.

“We were one of the early departments in the area to get those,” Faustino said.

On Jan. 23, 1997, Gladis resigned to become Trumbull County 911 director, and Faustino was promoted from detective to chief the next day.

Over the next 27 years, Brookfield Police Department became the second police department in the state to carry automated external defibrillators; created Safety Awareness Night with the Brookfield Fire Department; created a Neighborhood Watch group for the Davis Street-Ulp Street area; became the first department in the area to use digital cameras; held a Citizen’s Police Academy; updated the radio tower; started an impound lot to aid in the purchase of new cruisers; participated in a merger study with Hubbard and Hubbard Township police departments; took over a community Easter egg hunt that had been started by a local church; and became one of the first departments in the area to wear body cameras, Faustino said.

The 2013 study with Hubbard and Hubbard Township concluded that Brookfield offers police service at a lower cost than the other two. Faustino said he has always sought to provide quality policing without burdening the taxpayers.

“If it tells you we’re giving you the best service we can at the lowest cost, we work at that,” he said.

On July 1, the department will start a new chapter when Sgt. Aaron Kasiewicz takes over as chief.

“I’m leaving you in very good, capable hands,” Faustino said.

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