The Mahoning County deputies union will support Sheriff Randall Wellington’s decision to no longer operate video arraignments for the Youngstown Municipal Court.
“For years now, the Board of Mahoning County Commissioners has balanced their budget on the backs of the Sheriff’s Office and the members of Lodge 141,” according to a press conference transcript from Sgt. T.J. Assion, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 141.
Lodge 141 is having the press conference today at 10 a.m. at the county jail to announce its support of the sheriff.
Video arraignments from the county jail for the city court are set to end Feb. 6.
Wellington said the video arraignments are running his already underfunded jail staff thin and compromising their safety.
In a show of solidarity, the Youngstown police union has displayed support for the deputies in a letter from the city police union to Assion. The union called the act of canceling video arraignments an “unfortunate act that can be easily resolved by making jail operations a greater priority in county government.”
Samuel Mosca, president of the Youngstown Police Association, said the union will not be present at the press conference but does support the deputies.
“The union has given so many concessions in the past five years, now that the county’s outlook is looking better, it’s time for the county to start giving back,” Mosca said in a phone interview Sunday.
He added the city police union will not be much more vocal over the dispute, calling it a county government matter.
Youngstown Police Chief Rod Foley could not be reached Sunday to comment.
Wellington is calling for an additional $1.1 million in addition to the $14.1 million budget the county has allocated the department.
At the press conference today, Assion will say the decrease in jail staff since 2009 has led to an increase of attacks on officers.
“It is apparent from commissioners’ belief that the elimination of the video- arraignment service to the city as ‘stunt’ shows that they do not understand nor do they care about the safety and well being of Lodge 141 members,” Assion’s transcript reads.
The potential move has been criticized by some, including municipal Judge Elizabeth A. Kobly, who called Wellington’s decision “shocking.” In a Jan. 13 memorandum to city officials, she said canceling the video arraignments will only increase the need for more police at the court.
If the Feb. 6 deadline passes without a sheriff’s department budget increase, Mosca said the Youngstown police are willing to escort prisoners back and forth from the jail.
“That’s part of our job, too,” he said.