Vic's Corner: Interview with Northfield Village Police Chief John Zolgus
Nordonia Now spoke with Northfield Village Police Chief John Zolgus via email to get a brief interview and ask a few questions, mainly on the COVID-19 pandemic. Chief Zolgus has been in constant contact with the surrounding Police Chiefs in the area to make contingency plans pertaining to the crisis. Zolgus is also in daily contact with Northfield Village Fire Chief Jason Buss and Mayor Nehez. Nordonia Now thanks Police Chief Zolgus for taking the time from his busy schedule to keep us up to date in Northfield Village.
When you first took over the NVPD Chief position a few years ago, did you envision
yourself facing quite a unprecedented situation such as COVID-19?
Never did I imagine that we would be in the situation that we are in now, locally and globally. I have spoken to other Chiefs who feel the same way.
How long have you been with the NVPD, and when were you appointed as Chief?
I started with Northfield Village Police Department in September of 1993 as a part time Officer working full time hours plus maintaining a full time job in a different field. I then made full time in June of 1997, Sergeant in 2004, and then Chief in September of 2017.
With the closing of MGM and most business in Northfield, what effect has that had on your scheduling?
Scheduling has not been greatly affected since the closing of MGM and numerous other businesses within the Village.
What contingencies have you made with other Nordonia Hills Police Departments in case the epidemic hits NVPD? I would assume mutual aide plans have been talked about?
I have spoken to Chief Golden in Macedonia and Chief Hayes in Sagamore Hills and we agreed that we will share services without hesitation to guarantee the safety of all residents in the Nordonia Hills Community. I have also attended a meeting with other local Chiefs from Macedonia, Sagamore Hills, Twinsburg, Hudson, Boston Heights, Peninsula, Reminderville and Richfield. The topic of the meeting was sharing services and what are the different communities doing within their own departments and communities in response to the COVID-19 threat.
How has the department prepared itself for what could be an extended shut down period?
The Northfield Village Police Department is preparing for a longer shutdown than originally anticipated. We are furloughing Officers in hopes to keep them healthy in case we have Officers contract COVID-19 or become ill and are unable to come to work. We are having our station and police cruisers sanitized every week by RKS Bio Hazard in an effort to keep Officers as safe as possible. Northfield Village's Fire Department is doing the same.
I assume yourself, and NVFD Chief Jason Buss have prepared plans for any epidemic situation that might occur locally?
I speak to Fire Chief Jason Buss frequently as he is Northfield Village’s contact person for COVID-19. Chief Buss and his department have been contacting elderly residents in the Village and we will assist him whenever needed.
Going around Northfield, what is your opinion of what the residents feel is? Cabin Fever perhaps?
As I drive around Northfield Village, I see some residents out in their yards or walking their pets enjoying some nice weather (when we have it). I believe that Village residents are trying to obey the stay at home order.
How are you directing your officers when trying to enforce the 12:00 P.M. mandate of non-essential people not being on the road? Are less tickets overall being written?
Right now we are not actively enforcing the stay at home order unless we encounter a problem with any type of gathering. We do not have anything like that going on or any problems to mention as of yet. If we have to, we will strongly enforce the order.
Without MGM and local traffic at the bare minimum, does Northfield Village at times seem like a ghost town, especially at night?
With the very limited amount of traffic coming through town, it does seem like a ghost town at times. It reminds me of what things were like back in the early 90’s.
On another note, when might we see your department in a new building, and out of the Town Hall basement?
We are at the very beginning of discussing plans for a new building for the Police Department. However, with the current economic situation, those talks have been put on hold.
NOTE FROM CHIEF ZOLGUS: As far as policies or procedures go for traffic stops of taking reports, Officers have an extra heightened sense of awareness when dealing with the public. Keeping our distance and being mindful of what we touch. We can take reports over the phone or by email. Everybody still needs to obey all traffic laws and criminal laws while out in public. Nothing in that regards has changed. Officers will do what they need to do with traffic violators or criminal violators.
Thanks Chief John Zolgus for taking time to answer a few questions.