HUBBARD TOWNSHIP - After 31 years with the Hubbard Township Police Department, including the past 17 as chief, Todd Coonce will be retiring Nov. 30.
Coonce, 54, started with the department in October 1981.
He said he was working at Wink Electric Co. in Youngstown after high school when he was contacted by Pete Colla who ran the Youngstown Police Auxiliary.
Hubbard Community News / Bob Coupland
Hubbard Township Police Chief Todd Coonce, who has served with the police department since 1981, will be retiring Nov. 30.
''He saw me once and asked if I ever thought of doing police work. The thought had crossed my mind. He told me I would make a good police officer. I thought I would give it a try,'' he said.
Coonce, who was 19 at the time, said he filled out the application and applied for the Youngstown Police Academy and had started taking classes when he was told he would have to wait until he was 21 to be hired, and couldn't be hired in Youngstown because he didn't live in Mahoning County.
''I enjoyed attending the academy and found it interesting and contacted the Hubbard police chief who told me I would have to be 21 before they could call me if something came up down the road,'' he said.
Coonce stayed with the electric company and when he turned 21, he received a phone call from Police Chief John Karlovic to see if he was still interested in working for the police department.
Karlovic told him he would have to go through the police academy.
''I was married then and called my wife to see what she thought and she agreed and that night I started the police academy," Coonce said.
He said he went four hours every night for nine months at the academy.
In 1981, he started with the Hubbard Police Department and spent seven years as a part-time officer, becoming full-time in 1988. Then, in 1993, he was assigned to the Trumbull County Drug Task Force, which was a unit made up of Trumbull County police officers who worked narcotics for the whole county.
Police Chief Rick Wells asked him if he wanted to be full time with the narcotics unit, and he agreed.
''I worked undercover work and grew my hair long and a beard,'' he said.
Coonce remembers in 1994 a shootout in Warren where the Task Force went to a house on Oak Street and three officers, including himself, made entry to the house, and one officer got shot and they returned fire and two men inside the house were shot.
''After the shootout incident happened, my wife, Michele, was not happy with me working narcotics. I told her that I was working in a more controlled environment and risky at times unlike a police officer who doesn't know what to expect on some calls,'' Coonce said.
He said that eased her mind a little but then an opportunity came for Hubbard Township chief and he decided to apply for it.
In January of 1995, the township hired him as the chief when he was 35.
''It was a big adjustment going from working narcotics, doing undercover work, kicking in doors and doing raids to coming to sitting at a desk with a lot of paperwork. The first year I didn't think I was going to make it because for so long I was not used to sitting still,'' he said.
Coonce said he always has been concerned with safety and community oriented and received support from the public with passage of levies.
''We work for the public. Whenever we hire a new police officer I tell that individual the most important tool you have as a peace officer is using your mouth in good communication skills with the public which will help you tremendously with your career. That is the most important,'' he said.
Coonce said he has seen the township police department grow from when it was started in 1978. Prior to that it was a sheriff's office for Trumbull County that provided service to the area.
In 1976, a levy was passed and the police department was started and Police Chief John Karlovic was hired as chief.
Coonce said the building had its own dispatching and small offices at first when he took over. He said he knew what was needed was more space in order to grow.
Three years ago, the whole exterior was remodeled and more offices were added, which was a big morale booster.
Coonce said he remembers talks with Hubbard city about merging services. Consolidation plans are also being discussed currently with the city and Brookfield.
Coonce said grants over the years have helped the department get more personnel, including an assistant to help with getting police data on the computer. Grants have also helped with getting more full-time police officers and equipment and software.
Coonce said he proud that the community has supported every police levy on the ballot which helps generate operating money.
Coonce said the township may bring him back in some capacity,
His wife recently retired as the two are awaiting their first grandchild this month.
Coonce said he enjoyed serving the community and working with the public.
He remembers being honored by the Hubbard Schools as an Alumni of the Year in 2009.
"That was a honor in my career," he said.