YSU searches for new chief of police

The search for Youngstown State University’s next chief of police has been narrowed down to three candidates from a field of 18.

Shannon Tirone, head of the search committee, said interviews will be conducted this week. Open forums will also be held Tuesday through Thursday for members of the YSU community to ask the candidates questions.

“We’ll make a recommendation on Friday, if not Monday at the latest,” Tirone said. “By the 13th or 14th, we’re hoping to have something done, the candidate contacted and get their paperwork to [human resources].”

Tirone feels the group is moving as quickly as possible, despite the former chief, John Gocala, retiring Jan. 31.

“Obviously with [his retirement], there is no desire to leave it vacant,” Tirone said. “Lt. [Michael] Cretella will do a great job filling in, but he has no desire to stay in that position.”

Mark Machan, the chief of the Milford Police Department, will hold court Tuesday at 1 p.m. He boasts 28 years of experience, with 15 in chief positions.

John Beshara, Mahoning County sheriff, will be available for questioning Wednesday at 2 p.m. Two of his three professional references are Sheriff Randall Wellington and Gocala.

Tirone said these references don’t give Beshara any advantage over his competition.

“We haven’t even gotten to that stage,” Tirone said.

Beshara said he feels his 23 years working as an intermittent officer at YSU gives him a leg up on the competition.

“This is my university,” Beshara said. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from YSU, and his children are prospective YSU students.

“I know the buildings, the people, the students and the staff,” Beshara said. “Whatever challenges arise, I’ll handle them as best I can.”

Thursday, Mark Hall, chief of police in Clarion Borough, Pennsylvania, will answer questions at 1 p.m.

A college town, Clarion provides Hall with a similar experience to the YSU Police Department job. However, the town lacks the mid-size population off campus, which makes the job particularly challenging.

“Although Mike is going to do a fantastic job for us, we’re anxious to get a full-time chief of police on board,” Tirone said. 

Cretella and Hall declined to comment on the status of the search. Attempts to reach Machan were unsuccessful.