TWINSBURG — Det. Brian Donato, an 18-year veteran of the police department, is the city’s first officer to become a master criminal investigator.

"Brian successfully completed the requirements for master criminal investigator in Ohio," said Police Chief Chris Noga. "We congratulate him on his outstanding accomplishment."

Applicants for the designation must complete a core training program of 128 hours and an additional 64 hours of elective courses, for a total of 192 hours.

The courses must be taken through the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy, and are intended to strengthen an investigator’s knowledge, skills and abilities for conducting a variety of criminal investigations, according to Noga.

"We are fortunate at the Twinsburg PD that the chief and administrative staff believes that continuing education is important," said Donato. "We have a decent training budget, and we are encouraged to take advantage of these opportunities."

Donato studied sex crimes and death investigations, basic and crime scene photography, internet investigations, NIK testing and core criminal investigation.

From the elective courses, he was trained in internet and bias crimes investigations, use of confidential informants and crime scene photography.

"Photography was one of my favorite courses," Donato said. "We use that all the time to document crime scenes, and many times photos are taken at night. It was helpful to learn how to better use light sources."

Donato says the nature of crime has changed.

"We are dealing with different types of crimes than we did a few years ago, such as those associated with the internet and new technology," said Donato. "We need to keep up with techniques to handle those."

Donato said the classes also provided opportunities to meet others in the law enforcement field and learn how other departments deal with specific situations.

"I consider learning about new things to be fun," he said. "If you’re not learning, you’re not living."

Donato said he believes other officers in both his and surrounding departments who take advantage of advanced training, perhaps earning the master criminal investigator designation themselves.

"Brian is a hardworking member of our detective bureau, and we’re very proud that he’s earned this certification," said Assistant Chief Bob Gonsiewski. "He’s solved a lot of cases during his time [six years] in the detective bureau."

Gonsiewski said that as the city grows, the police department is faced with more serious crimes, and Donato’s recent training will be a great asset for him and the department.

"We have a pretty low crime rate here, and having officers who are highly trained goes a long way toward keeping it that way," said Gonsiewski.

Reporter Ken Lahmers can be reached at 330-541-9400 ext. 4189 or klahmers@recordpub.com.