Upholding the law for 134 years in Mingo Junction

Contributed MINGO JUNCTION OFFICERS — The Mingo Junction Police Department was founded on Feb. 20, 1883. This picture was taken in the early 1900s and is part of the photo history of the department. Today, Joe Sagun, a 25-year officer, is the chief of the department.

MINGO JUNCTION — Village police officers have been patrolling the town’s streets for 134 years.

The department began on Feb. 20, 1883. It has grown and shrunk with the size of the steel mill during its history.

Chief Joe Sagun said the department used to have 11 full- and part-time officers, with two on every shift around the clock. The department had a drug unit and a full-time D.A.R.E. officer educating children about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.

When the mill closed down in 2010, the village was forced to lay off all of the officers, Sagun said. The police chief was the only officer on duty. The officers negotiated with Village Council to work without overtime and three officers were brought back, Sagun said.

After members of the department took a 40 percent pay cut, the village was able to add another officer and then added another officer using money from a federal policing grant, he said.

The department several months ago had four officers and the chief. Two officers have since left for better paying jobs and Sagun is attempting to fill those positions.

Sagun said the police department annually responds to about 3,000 complaints.

“It is a busy little village. We have a lot of different crimes, such as drugs and domestic violence,” he said.

Sagun said it is “interesting” being the chief of the village police department.

“It is great that I can serve the residents of Mingo Junction. I feel honored to serve my fellow citizens. I was born and raised here. I believe we have the support of the citizens. It is nice to have that backing,” he said.

When the village several years ago couldn’t afford to buy bullet-proof vests for officers, community members made donations to purchase the safety gear, he said. Tasers and even batteries for the cruisers were purchased by donations from residents and businesses, Sagun said.

“It makes us feel appreciated,” he said.

The residents have been patient with the police department and its lack of manpower, Sagun said.

“They know we are short (staffed) and know we can’t always get to a report right away. We are doing our job to the best of our ability,” he said.

Two Mingo Junction officers have been killed in the line of duty.

Lt. William J. Snider was shot and killed on Jan. 24, 1923. and Lt. Michael J. Maguschak was killed on Dec. 30, 1970.

Sagun said Maguschak’s unit number was retired when his son, Michael, was police chief.

Sagun has worked his way up through the ranks of the department.

During Sagun’s 25 years with the department, he has served as a patrolman, lieutenant for three years, captain for 13 years and chief for two years.