Reynoldsburg News

Chief wants to hire officer, buy new cruiser

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Police Chief Jim O'Neill appealed to Reynoldsburg City Council's safety committee Monday, May 6, to hire another police officer and buy a cruiser.

"We have been in the position of needing at least one additional officer for some time now," O'Neill said at the meeting. "We are doing what we can, but I think the community would benefit from adding another officer."

O'Neill said the police department currently has 54 sworn officers.

"We've already had close to 100 applicants for the position," he said.

He told committee members the department could also use an additional police cruiser.

"We also have the option to put two men in a cruiser," he said. "In virtually every incident, we need two officers to show up, but not necessarily two cars. So there would be savings in that."

Committee members agreed on the need for another officer, but Councilwoman Monica DeBrock asked about the funds needed to pay that person.

"I'm very pleased we could find another officer, but where specifically do the funds come from for the salary?" she asked.

Auditor Richard Harris said the amount for the salary could be appropriated from the city's streets fund.

"Over the last few years, we have not spent as much on streets that we probably should have," he said. "That fund could sustain salary and benefits for one officer, but our capital needs are still pressing."

Harris said the city spends only 2 percent of its budget on capital needs, while other cities, such as Hilliard, spend about 6 percent.

"Our capital needs will have to be dealt with eventually," he said.

He said the salary for another officer depends on that person's experience, with the top range at $70,000. A starting-level annual salary would be about $60,000, including benefits, he said.

Councilman Cornelius McGrady said he had already discussed adding another officer with Mayor Brad McCloud.

"I think it is time to strengthen our force," he said. "I am in favor of adding another police officer."

In other police-related business, the safety committee agreed to send two more ordinances to the full council for consideration.

One would authorize the city to apply for a grant from the COPS Hiring Program to cover 75 percent of the approved entry-level salary and benefits for a new full-time police officer for three years, according to O'Neill.

"This is a new grant and we hoped to move forward on it," he said. "We would like to add a community resource officer's position for the Brice-Livingston Avenue area."

He said the grant information stated that additional consideration would be given if the officer position were a school resource officer, although Reynoldsburg has no openings at this point for an SRO.

The second ordinance headed to the full council would authorize the purchase of a programmable system to operate secure doors in the police department.

"We are currently working these doors off an old computer that has proprietary software that is no longer supported," O'Neill said. "Should that system fail, we would have to operate all the doors by hand."

He said a local supplier, Viper Protection Services, could replace the system with non-proprietary software. He said the police budget will support $17,000 of the $19,978 cost.

The remaining $2,978 could come from a special law enforcement account, with the yearly maintenance fee of $1,200 budgeted for 2014.

Council's next meeting is scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Monday, May 13, at City Hall, 7232 E. Main St.

Comments