City council OKs gunfire sensor program

YOUNGSTOWN — City council agreed to renew a contract with a company that has sensors on the South Side to determine where gunshots are fired.

But Councilwoman Anita Davis, who represents the South Side and is a retired police officer, urged the police department to add to the program to make it more effective.

“It would behoove the police department to look into cameras,” she said.

Davis joined the other six members of council Wednesday in voting to authorize the board of control to spend $70,036 for the annual renewal of the police department’s contract with ShotSpotter of Newark, Calif.

Davis said SpotShotters in its current form doesn’t reduce crime.

Police Chief Robin Lees said the program has helped solve crimes and give officers an accurate location of where a shooting occurs. The contract is about $5,000 more than the expired deal, he said.

The system was installed about 10 years ago when Jimmy Hughes was the police chief. He is now the 3rd Ward councilman.

Also Wednesday, council authorized the board of control to sign a two-year contract with Julian and Grube of Westerville to conduct the city’s 2019 and 2020 annual audits. Each audit will cost up to $123,200.

On the agenda of today’s board of control meeting is approval of the contract.

The state auditor’s office has done the city’s audits in the past, but asked the city to change to this auditing firm, Kyle Miasek, the city’s interim finance director, said. The state auditor’s office still will review the final report.

The auditor’s office reviewed the city’s financial records in 2017 and 2018 and determined in two separate audits, both completed in 2019, that Youngstown improperly spent $4,415,332 from its water, wastewater and environmental sanitation funds primarily for downtown economic development projects during those two prior years. The auditor determined the money for those expenses should have come from the general fund.

While the auditor has offered to allow the city to repay the three funds over a 15-year period, Mayor Jamael Tito Brown has refused, saying a court would have to require Youngstown to do that.


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