By danny restivo
Union members from the city police department filed a grievance with city officials Friday over the new 911 dispatching procedure.
Otto Holm Jr., Fraternal Order of Police Ohio labor staff representative, said it stems from the transfer of the city’s 911 dispatching from a city operation to the Trumbull County Dispatch Center on Oct. 11.
Since the transfer, Holm said, a dispatcher is no longer in the police station to supervise prisoners taken into custody. He said the scenario creates a safety issue when only two officers are on duty, and one must attend to a prisoner while the other officer patrols the city by himself.
In the grievance, the union is asking to increase the minimum number of officers on duty from two to three.
“The transfer created an unintended consequence, but the safety of the officers is at hand,” said Holm. “We have to figure out how to make this workable, and our officers’ safety is in jeopardy.”
Holm said the department does have a plan to call an off-duty officer in to monitor any prisoners taken into custody, but he said he doesn’t think that’s a proper remedy for the problem. He points to the challenge of getting officers who weren’t scheduled to work into the station quickly during an odd hour of the night.
According to a statement, Police Chief James Taafe said the department could not discuss the issue, citing fair labor practices. However, he said union members met with city officials Oct. 18 and “discussed several mechanisms to resolve the issue amicably.” Taafe said that another meeting between the two sides is scheduled for Wednesday.