New fuzz

A sign hangs on the front door of the Titusville Police Station for the candidates who are looking to fill the holes on the force. Titusville will add three officers following the retirement of Officer Shane Slagle, the promotion of Detective Jeff Prugh and the departure of Zach Erdman.

When Titusville Police Chief Dustin LeGoullon was hired in 2006, there was just one month between his arrival and the department’s hiring of Aaron Madden.

The chief said that for a small department, the addition of two officers required some getting used to. Now, 15 years later, the department is adding three officers at once, filling in for the departure of an officer who left for another job, one who is retiring and another officer who was promoted within the department.

“This is going to be a new experience for all of us,” said LeGoullon. “But it is great to be able to build this department and have more resources and capabilities.”

At the end of the month, Titusville will be saying goodbye to officer Shane Slagle. Slagle’s retirement will open up a third position on the force, after officer Zach Erdman left for another job and Detective Jeff Prugh was promoted to the position of narcotics detective.

This past Saturday, the department held testing procedures for potential new officers, and have 10 candidates to choose from.

After 21 years of service to the Titusville community, on Jan. 31 Officer Slagle will be handing in his badge. Throughout his years on the force, Chief LeGoullon said that Slagle has been an integral part of the department, and that he will surely be missed.

“When I first started here Shane and I worked many shifts together,” said LeGoullon. “Throughout the years he has been a great officer, brother and friend.”

The chief also said that throughout the years, Slagle has developed relationships and intelligence that has been invaluable to the department.

“He will be very hard to replace,” said LeGoullon.

While one officer says goodbye, another is saying hello to a new position. When LeGoullon was named chief in 2018, he had a list of goals he wanted to accomplish. At the top of that list was getting narcotics off the streets, and stifling narcotics trafficking both in Titusville and in the Titusville area.

One way to achieve that goal is having officers dedicated to getting drugs off the street. After serving a temporary trial period, on Jan. 1, Detective Jeff Prugh was promoted to the position of narcotics detective. The department needed to hire an officer to take over his previous duties.

In October, when Prugh first started his trial, the results were immediate.

“October was one of our biggest months yet when it comes to narcotics,” said LeGoullon.

During his trial time Prugh was able to open several narcotics cases, some in just the city, and others involving multiple jurisdictions and agencies. Some of these cases are ongoing, but some have already led to arrests.

LeGoullon described this work as something that has a snowball effect. Once you arrest one person, they give you information on another.

When LeGoullon opened up the position for a narcotics detective, while the role was not designed for him, the chief said that this was a position that fit Prugh perfectly.

“His skills, past cases and determination set him up for that position,” said LeGoullon.

Before being a narcotics detective, Prugh was instrumental in a large narcotics bust that involved the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). The new position, according to LeGoullon, is a result of how successful that operation was, and how inter-department communication can help get drugs out of this community.

Detective Prugh will soon be joined in his efforts to get drugs off the streets by Titusville’s police K-9. LeGoullon said getting a detective and police K-9 are two big steps to combatting drugs in the Titusville area.

With the retirements and promotions, the new recruits for the police department have big shoes to fill. However, when the new officers come into the department, they will be more familiar with each other’s duties than they would have in previous years.

Another goal that LeGoullon had set when he became chief was streamlining field training, so that every officer received the same training, and are on the same page.

“Everyone will be trained with the same principals, guidelines and expectations,” said LeGoullon.

When the new officers start their first day, they will have to go through a minimum eight-week program. There are four phases to the training, each phase taking two weeks.

The officers will start their training staggered, so that the department is not overwhelmed by the new trainees.

After meeting with the candidates, LeGoullon said that he was surprised with how knowledgeable the candidates were, and how committed they seemed to serve the community.

In past years, according to LeGoullon, when a position opened, would-be officers would just apply, and learn about the position later.

“After sitting down with all of them, they are eager to be a part of this department and this city,” said LeGoullon. “More applicants had done their research and referenced things done by the department and the camaraderie we have.”

The chief is excited to see the new officers become a part of the Titusville police family. LeGoullon wanted to thank both City Council and City Manager Neil Fratus for supporting the department, and allowing them to hire the new officers.

LeGoullon is also excited for the residents of Titusville, and those in the Titusville area, to see this department reach new heights, and continue to serve this community in the best way possible.

“We want to continue to do whatever we can to remove narcotics from the streets and eliminate trafficking from this area,” he said. “This is a strong step in that direction.”

Dvorkin can be reached by email at Gdvorkin@titusvilleherald.com.

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