City of Erie Police Department Swears in Five New Officers

Erie, PA – Five new police officers were sworn into the Erie Police Department today in City Council chambers at Erie City Hall.

The new officers are:

Ryan Vantassel, age 33

Erich Semelka, age 34

Denis Kokhanevich, age 24

James Williams, age 32

Jessica Dahlstrand, age 38

During the ceremony, the Erie Police command staff recognized the new officers and their new commitment to their community. “Today is an exciting day for these officers,” said Erie Police Inspector Christopher Janus, who led the recruitment team for the five new officers. ” It is a milestone in their law enforcement career they will never forget. However, it is not the first milestone nor is it the last of their career. Law Enforcement is not just a job, but a calling to serve and protect others. Each of these individuals answered that call.”

About 50 people attended the ceremony, including fellow officers, friends, and family members. Mayor Joe Schember congratulated the new officers and said, “You are joining an extremely talented and dedicated department with a long history of service to the citizens of Erie. You are very much appreciated by not only me, but by all the people who live, work, and visit our outstanding community.” The City of Erie Police Department was established in 1851 and has been in existence for over 170 years.

Erie Police Chief Daniel Spizarny said the new officers need only to look at their families when preparing for their new responsibilities as peacekeepers, law enforcement officers, and guardians. “It is a great responsibility you have chosen,” said Chief Spizarny in his remarks during the ceremony. “You will be expected to protect and serve the citizens of Erie in a courteous and professional manner, sometimes in the most difficult of circumstances.

“Look out at the family and friends here today. Let them be reminders of why you took this job. Remember that your desire to protect them and defend your family is now your responsibility to the entire community. I suggest this: Treat everyone as you would want your family and friends to be treated.”

Since 2021 the Erie Police Department has hired 56 new police officers. 17 of those hires – or just over 30 percent – have been minorities.

Applications to become a City of Erie police officer are open until June 30, 2024. To learn more visit

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