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Responding to the Call

News Type Public Address

Sgt. Aaron Meyer (left) of the City of Fairfield Police Department and Michael Hakeos Jr. (right), an assistant agent in charge with the Ohio Department of Public Safety Ohio Investigative Unit, discuss their projects with Christi Bartman, an instructor at the Public Safety Leadership Academy.

By Joan Slattery Wall

For more than a year, Michael Hakeos Jr. has been mulling over a plan to address the opioid epidemic by following the money.

As an assistant agent in charge with the Ohio Department of Public Safety Ohio Investigative Unit, he sees how drug users often steal property and sell it to secondhand or resale shops to make money to buy drugs. His idea: Stop those retail stores from purchasing the stolen goods in the first place.

“We’re seeing these people making money hand over foot and taking advantage of people who have the issue of drug abuse,” Hakeos says.

Through a project he developed during the John Glenn College of Public Affairs Public Safety Leadership Academy (PSLA), he’s headed back to his job with concrete steps to not only implement his plan at his unit in Toledo but to then expand it to the rest of Ohio and other states. He also wants to push for legislation regarding financial crimes where law enforcement can show a direct link between the stolen property purchases and the money being used for drugs.

The Public Safety Leadership Academy, an 11-week, in-residence leadership experience, is a collaboration between the Glenn College and the Ohio Department of Public Safety that provides innovative, college-level training to senior law enforcement officers from around the state. Participants learn skills to manage any division within a law enforcement agency and to demonstrate preparedness to take on additional leadership opportunities.


Participants in the 2022 Public Safety Leadership Academy visit Antietam National Cemetery for Civil War and other veterans at its Lodge, the first superintendent’s home, museum and visitor center, in Sharpsburg, Maryland.

“One of the goals of the Public Safety Leadership Academy is to provide senior law enforcement officers with a break in their normal routine to work on a project that has value when they return to their unit. This is a significant investment in public safety,” said Greg Moody, director of professional development at the Glenn College. “The state highway patrol, county sheriffs and city police chiefs release their best officers for 11 weeks to participate in the program. We want to make sure they return better prepared to meet the challenges of modern policing and to keep Ohioans safe.”

Hakeos’ time in this year’s PSLA training enabled him to interview stakeholders and devise a plan to first train his agents in Toledo in investigating financial crimes. When drug users are arrested for theft or shoplifting, officers would immediately provide them with community resources for assistance, find out how they are selling the items they’ve stolen and investigate the entities that are buying the stolen property. After studying measurables on the success of the community assistance programs and enforcement of financial crimes, Hakeos anticipates, the program can start a second cycle in Toledo and initiate a first cycle across the investigative units in other areas of the state.

My hope is that with my agency’s enthusiasm on this, it will be able to start in the next four to six months.

Michael Hakeos Jr.
Assistant Agent in Charge, Ohio Department of Public Safety Ohio Investigative Unit

“If it grew from there, we’d find that the project I thought of over a year ago has turned into something that could help so many people,” said Hakeos.

He also gained experience and skills in leadership and communications that he can take back to his day-to-day work.

“We always have 10 things lined up that we’re doing, and sometimes we continue working while we’re talking to someone,” he said. “We don’t think about how that looks to them. It can even be having a chair in my office for visitors that makes me turn my chair away from my computer and my desk to face them. It’s not just telling them that I care but showing them that I am vested in what they are saying.”

Sgt. Aaron Meyer of the City of Fairfield Police Department used his time during PSLA to explore an idea his department has to create a Community Response Team to address specific problem areas and participate in community events so road patrol officers can stay focused on calls for service, arrests, and proactive traffic and neighborhood patrols.

“I was in the investigating division for six years, so I was kind of cut off from the road patrol. When I was promoted in 2018 and went back to road duty, I realized how spread thin they are,” he said. In developing the Community Response Team plan, he looked at how it would make the department more efficient and save time in a way that might result in diminishing the need for as many additional officers.

“It’s hard since we have a lot of administrative duties that take a lot of time, but officers also do lot of community response work like handling traffic complaints and doing vacation home checks,” Meyer said. “With calls for service rising and manpower going down, it’s been hard to do the things we want to do.”

After obtaining buy in from his department leadership, he envisions deploying school resource officers during the summer to test the Community Response Team concept and then to spend the school months developing policies, staffing and funding avenues with a goal of implementing the team in 2023.

Meyer said he appreciated the opportunity PSLA gave him to network and share ideas with other officers across the state.

“I really enjoyed getting bonded with these people, and getting to go to D.C. for Police Week was a neat experience,” Meyer said. “The professors at Ohio State were knowledgeable and very accommodating. It’s unique to have that collaboration with a large university and the state patrol and officers from all over the state.”