By Eric Grosso
NEWTON FALLS — City council voted to eliminate council discussion of recent weapon trades by the police department from board meetings.
Council member Catie Karl-Moran, who asked for the elimination of the discussion to be added to Monday’s agenda, said the weapons discussion “interfered with the board’s ability to conduct business.”
The issue had been discussed at length the last three board meetings, even though the trade of the weapons was completed in January.
The discussion centered on the legality of a weapons trade that took place between the Newton Falls Police Department and Atwells Police and Fire Equipment Co., Painesville.
Police Chief John Kuivila said the traded weapons were weapons the department did not use or weapons that had been seized in raids. In exchange for the weapons, the department was given a store credit of about $15,000.
Last week, law Director Richard F. Schwartz said the trade of unused weapons by the police chief was legal, but he suggested council develop a policy requiring council to approve future weapons transfers.
He said the only negative coming from the situation was the public finding out through word of mouth rather than through council meetings.
Mayor Pat Layshock pointed out that, by state ordinance, any items valued at $1,000 or more have to be approved by ordinance before they can be sold.
Schwartz disagreed, however, saying the trade of the weapons was legal.
Schwartz noted that Kuivila had received permission to trade weapons from Judge Phil Vigorito of municipal court and he also talked with members of the city’s safety committee as well as City Manager Jack Haney before starting the trade.
Layshock also said 74 of the 80 weapons could have been auctioned because they did not have any type of restrictions unlike the six remaining weapons that had Class III restrictions.
The six Class III weapons can only be transferred to another law enforcement agency or to an authorized Class III weapons dealer, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Class III weapons include machine guns and silencers.