UHRICHSVILLE (WJER) (Feb. 28, 2022) – After more than two years of asking for an additional officer, the city’s police chief is finally getting his wish.
Council on Thursday voted 4-3 to increase the number of full-time officers on the city’s roster from 9 to 10. Mayor Mark Haney says that’s still nowhere close to where to what they should have based on the number of calls the department has been fielding, but it’s a start.
“There was a study done a while back that showed where the city should have 14 officers, and we don’t even have near that right now… A lot of times in situations we’re working with one officer by himself or herself and it’s just a safety issue and we also need more officers on the street due to some of the issues that we have with drugs and crime that we’re dealing with.”
The no’s came from Amy Myers, Matt Fox, and Jim Zucal, who were concerned about the cost of the addition, and Council President Buck Cottrell cast the tie-breaking vote. Haney says the auditor already crunched the numbers and the city can afford it.
“We had carried over a large sum of money in our general fund and we felt that adding that officer was not going to damage our carryover to the point of any issues.”
He says it should only take a couple of weeks to fill the position which has been offered one of the individuals on the city’s list of eligible candidates.
“We’ve already actually had the testing and went through the interview process, and I believe we’ve extended the letter of offer as of [Friday].”
Chief Vince Beal first approached council about the need for an additional officer in the summer of 2019 and was given permission to apply for a federal grant program that ended up being put on hold because of the pandemic. The department reapplied when the program resumed last year but had its application rejected.