With Justin Fulton and Seth Kramer being sworn in as the newest full-time officers, the agency roster is up to 24 officers for the first time in 10 years.
“This is a historic event for our department,” Chief Dave Light said before the brief ceremony.
Shortly after the recession hit, the department had 21 officers — one of which was a detective — for several years. Light said the detective bureau is where police departments often cut their budgets “when you have a shortage.”
Now with the addition of Fulton and Kramer, Light said that will allow the road officers to respond to the calls they need to handle and allow detectives to investigate more drug cases. He noted that detectives have handled more this year already than they had in all of 2016.
Fulton’s father, Detective Sgt. Jim Fulton, leads the detective bureau, which also includes Detective Sgt. Seth Fry and Detective Dave Daniels, the department DARE and Safety Town officer. In the coming weeks, the chief expects to add a fourth member.
“We have five people who have applied,” Light said.
But Thursday wasn’t about the detectives; it was celebrating the department’s newest members.
Kramer and Justin Fulton are graduates of St. Paul High School.
“I’m proud of you guys,” said Norwalk Councilman Steve Schumm, who was their principal at St. Paul.
In school, Schumm said Fulton and Kramer were reliable, dependable and cooperative — great characteristics that make for good officers. Fulton played on the Flyers football team that won the state championship in 2009.
Kramer, a 2011 St. Paul graduate who was a reserve officer starting in May 2015, expects law enforcement to be a lifelong career. He said he enjoys being “personable with the community” and being a self-starter. Also, Kramer said the feedback he received from veterans helped him as a reserve cop.
“They taught me a lot,” added the son of Matt and Kelly.
Kramer’s parents said their son always has taken on leadership opportunities and been a loyal person.
“He’s just an all-around good person. He’s a good friend. He’s always there if you need him,” his mother, Kelly, added.
Fulton, who earned his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from BGSU-Firelands, said being a cop is “a dream come true.” He started in Norwalk as a reserve officer in May. Fulton is the son of Jim and Jennifer.
“It’s really exciting. I’ve thought about (going into law enforcement) since I was a little, but it was the first semester out of high school I knew for sure,” said Fulton, who graduated from St. Paul in 2013.
He joins several other father-son combinations who have served together in the Norwalk Police Department. Police recalled the most recent was Zack and Capt. Jack O’Neil and several decades ago, Henry “Hank” Landoll and Henry Landoll Jr. and Bud Dewalt and his son Gary also were on the force together.
The senior Landoll was a captain in 1960. Gary Dewalt joined the department about 1967 and became the chief in 1989 or 1990, serving in that position for two years.
Fulton virtually has grown up in the department. His father said he has a picture of him holding his son when he was younger than 4 during a police function.
“Todd Temple is his godfather,” added Jim, referring to his retired co-worker. “In recent years, (Huron County Sheriff) Todd Corbin lived a few houses away.”
The younger Fulton’s great uncle, the late Harold Fulton, served with the Stark County Sheriff’s Office.
“I’m proud of him. I’ve never pushed him into (law enforcement),” Jim said. “Can this be a dangerous job? Sure. If you rely on your training and fellow officers, you can minimize that.”