Login | October 22, 2020

Youngstown lawyer/retired detective sergeant receives doctorate

Legal News Reporter

Published: October 15, 2020

A police standoff ensues on Aberdeen Avenue in Youngstown after a man allegedly threatens neighbors with a rifle. Around three hours later Brandon Turjonis, 32, steps out of his home and surrenders to members of the Mahoning Valley Crisis Response Team.
Turjonis, who was charged in connection with the incident, was unharmed as were the officers who arrested him.
The following day members of the response team took the unprecedented action of returning to the area to allow local children to check out their vehicles and take pictures with them.
While the peaceful outcome is important, it’s the community follow-up component that attorney Donald Scott, a retired detective sergeant of the Youngstown Police Department said is needed to maintain a positive relationship between officers and the community.
“These officers not only handled a negative event well, they added an extra touch by trying to connect in a positive way with the residents in the area,” said Scott, a retired U.S. Army Reserve Lt. Colonel. “The importance of addressing the public image of officers cannot be overstated, especially today.”
The issue is the subject of his recently published dissertation, entitled “A Qualitative Study Exploring: Police Militarization Effect on the Police-Community Relationship,” undertaken as part of his two-year Doctor of Law and Policy Program at Northeastern University in Boston.
“Our accelerated two-year Doctor of Law and Policy program is designed to educate a diverse group of experienced professionals on how to use law and policy perspectives and strategies to understand and transform their professional practice, organizations or industry,” Kim Larson, director of the Doctor of Law and Policy Program at Northeastern University said in an email.
Scott, who received his doctorate in June 2020 enrolled in the school’s hybrid Executive Program in 2018. The program required him to attend classes at Northeastern University in Boston every other month, during which time he also met with other cohort members to discuss their dissertations.
“As part of the program, we spent a week in London, where we had the ability to take classes at Oxford University,” he said. “This provided us with an international lens through which to see the issues.
“To be successful in brokering a deal, it is important to be able to see the issues through the vantage point of the other person or party.”
Students also spent time in Washington D.C. on Capitol Hill discussing current national policy issues with Congressional members. In addition, as part of a Law and Legal Reasoning course, they served as mock judges in a litany of current cases that were yet to be decided before the appellate and U.S. Supreme courts.
“It has been interesting to see how these cases have since unfolded,” he said.
Although the program was time-intensive, he continued to take on cases. A general practitioner in the Youngstown area, Scott focuses on a range of matters, including probate and real estate issues.
“I like challenges,” he said. “There is always a new hill to climb, which enables you to better yourself and do a better job serving the public. A lot of people don’t want to push themselves too hard, but I believe it’s important to keep striving to do better and that’s how I’ve lived my entire life.”
A graduate of South High School, Scott grew up in Youngstown’s inner city, attending the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy in Mahoning County and Youngstown State University (YSU) simultaneously.
In 1982, he graduated from the academy and received an associate’s degree in applied science in police science technology. Two years later, he obtained a bachelor of science from YSU in applied science in law enforcement administration.
Scott joined the United States Army Reserve in June 1984, honorably retiring in July 2012. During his time in the military, Scott was ordered to active service in support of operations Noble Eagle and Enduring Freedom.
He received a number of military awards and civilian commendations, including a right shoulder patch after temporary duty in the active warzone of Afghanistan on special assignment.
From January 1987 to the spring of 1989, Scott was a member of the U.S. Capitol Police Force in Washington D.C. He joined the Youngstown Police Department as a patrolman in 1989.
In the early 1990s, Scott was involved in a police shootout in which he apprehended a violent felon. Later he received a Silver Star for bravery from the National Association of Chiefs of Police. 
He obtained his juris doctorate from Cleveland State University Cleveland-Marshall College of Law in 2002, but didn’t take the bar exam for several years because he was ordered to active duty in the U.S. Army.
A member of American, Ohio State and Mahoning County bar associations, Scott is a member of the Mahoning County Bar Association’s Unauthorized Practice of Law and Certified Grievance committees. He is licensed to practice before the Ohio Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court.
Scott is also a member of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 28 in Youngstown and The American Legion/American Veterans (AMVETS) and is a lifetime member of both the Reserve Officers Association of the United States and the Cleveland-Marshall Law Alumni Association.
In July 2015, he graduated from the Ohio State Bar Association Leadership Academy, where he got the chance to meet with and learn from members of the bench and the bar as well as state and local government officials.
He’s now one of seven cohort members to complete Northeastern University’s prestigious doctorate program.
“We started with 31 people in the program, but only seven of us or 22.5% completed our degrees within the two-year time frame,” said Scott. “The other students may receive their degrees later, assuming they complete all the requirements of the program.
“I am extremely proud to be among these graduates,” he said. “For a kid who grew up on the south side of Youngstown to be among this small group of students to achieve a doctorate is an amazing accomplishment.”
Scott’s published dissertation has garnered the interest of several chiefs of police associations in light of current events.
“As the community changes, law enforcement needs to adapt the way it responds to incidents,” said Scott. “Police in Mahoning County have done that very well, compared to other parts of the state and the country.
“Taking a few simple steps to improve the public image of the police department can go a long way to improve community-police relations.”
Larson said Scott’s dissertation provides “middle ground solutions” that will benefit police and community members.
“Don’s approach to his work allowed him to gather information from those on both sides of the issue,” said Larson, who also serves as an associate teaching professor at Northeastern University. “He took a scholar-practitioner approach, keeping his research and resulting recommendations focused upon real-world practicality and applicability.”
As he looks toward the future, the Youngstown resident said his plans are simple: “I will continue to serve my community and clients to the best of my ability and keep my eyes open for new challenges and opportunities.
“I am blessed with perseverance and I will continue to push myself to excel in any way possible.”