The Johnstown Police Department added six officers, including three minorities, who bring needed diversity to the ranks.
Johnstown Mayor Frank Janakovic held a swearing-in ceremony Monday in the fourth-floor council chambers of the Public Safety Building on Washington Street.
Peter Forestieri, Hayden Hann and Eric Allen joined Valarie Mayhew, Dante Martinez and Steven Tineo in taking the oath of office.
Five of the officers graduated from the Municipal Police Academy at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and Allen from the Johnstown Regional Police Academy.
“Welcome aboard,” city police Chief Richard Pritchard told the group.
“We’re here to make sure you guys succeed.”
Police departments across the nation are challenged in finding recruits. The city police department widened its search parameters.
“We’re fortunate that we went to IUP and got five of these officers in a recruiting drive,” Pritchard said.
Adding Martinez, Tineo and Mayhew brings needed diversity to a department that has largely been dominated by white males.
“It’s very important and it’s very difficult to attract minorities to policing,” Pritchard said.
“We’re doing our best to create an atmosphere that fosters a good relationship with the community.
“We’re always trying our best to make the department more diverse,” he said.
Tineo, a Dominican from Queens, New York, said when he was growing up, he was introduced to policing through a Law Enforcement Explorers program. He graduated from high school in Hazleton and attended IUP.
“This is what I wanted to do my whole life,” he said.
“Johnstown is perfect for me.”
Hann, a former employee with Blair County Parole and Probation, said he chose a career in law enforcement after seeing the impact of the opioid epidemic.
“I figured I could get people the help they need in rehab before they end up in the criminal justice system,” he said.
The six officers will be on one-year probation. The police department now has 40 officers, the chief said.