GIRARD POLICE Budget woes force possible service cuts

Escorting business people to banks and unlocking vehicles may be cut.
GIRARD -- Police Chief Anthony Ross is considering cutting some noncritical services.
Ross said Wednesday that because his department is short 10 officers and dispatchers as a result of city fiscal problems, he can put only two cruisers on the street for each shift.
"We're going to do the job the best we can," he stressed, noting that staffing has dropped from 28 to 18.
The chief said he is talking with members of his department about the possibility of cutting out escorting business people to make bank deposits and opening doors for motorists who lock themselves out of their vehicles.
"We can't be doing that," Ross asserted.
Fire department
The chief's remarks come after Mayor James J. Melfi announced Monday that two part-time firefighters will be brought on full-time and one or two others are being taken off 3
3ayoff status to fill in during vacations.
The move allows the fire department to have five firefighters per shift and reduced overtime costs.
"We're having a hell of a time putting two men on the road," said police Capt. Frank Bigowsky.
He pointed out that when city employees were laid off last year, no full-time firefighters were furloughed.
Ross and Bigowsky said the staffing problem has caused a rift between the police department and Melfi.
"The administration has created an air of animosity," Ross charged.
Firefighters agreed to freezes on pay and uniform allowance this year in exchange for no layoffs in their full-time ranks.
Bigowsky said the administration would not guarantee there would be no layoffs in police ranks if they agreed to a pay freeze.
"The administration is telling us [fire department] services are more important than the police department's," the captain said.
Positions gone
He and Ross noted there is no longer a juvenile officer, a school resource officer, traffic control officer or representatives assigned to the Mahoning Valley Violent Crimes Task Force or Trumbull County Drug Task Force.
Besides, they say, the staffing shortage is causing a safety issue for police, because one officer is likely to answer calls such as domestic violence, when two officers would be much safer.

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