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EL council talks options about recalling furloughed officers

EAST LIVERPOOL — City councilman Ray Perorazio didn’t get the OK to bring back a furloughed police officer during Monday’s regular meeting. Hwever, his colleagues said that they will think about it.

During last week’s finance committee meeting, Perorazio told his fellow committee members that he intended to bridge the subject, citing the exit of Moose Ramsey from the department.

Councilman Craig Stowers expressed surprise it hadn’t happened yet, considering the reason that Hunter Maze and Jay Lane were laid off was said to be budgetary.

The department is operating with 16 officers now, considering Ramsey’s retirement, Shawn Long’s paid administrative leave and the two officers’ furlough. Remaining officers are having to work double, or 16-hour, shifts and only with two officers through the entire city due to shortages.

Mayor Greg Bricker reminded council members they started 2020 with a $420,000 deficit and he expects that to grow — especially due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Officials confirmed the street department lost someone, too; however, the city was unable to make fire department cuts because of the minimum manning requirements laid out in the union’s contract. The police don’t have that protection.

City Safety-Service Director David Dawson added that the money just isn’t there.

Stowers responded, “If we aren’t replacing officers (due to money), we are just letting the criminals take over.”

Auditor Marilyn Bosco reminded council they already knew they will be collecting $215,000 less from the income tax in 2020.

Bricker said. “(Our) revenue is getting crushed,” adding the furloughs were completely “numbers driven.”

Police Chief John Lane was talking about how the lack of police manpower has impacted the safety of streets. For example, the home invasion in the East End happened while there was only one officer in the entire city, as the other officer was on his way to the county jail with an arrested person. “This is all drug-related. We don’t have a drug investigator, and this is a safety issue,” he explained.

When Lane laid off the two patrolmen, this meant he had to call back the department’s representative on the county drug task force.

“There is no easy solution, and it is not going to go away,” he said before asking council to reconsider the traffic cameras again — administered in a different fashion if they were unhappy with it the first time around.

On any given afternoon shift, the two officers have 20 cases, he noted.

Perorazio said he has to vote to put the traffic cameras in and he loses as a result.

Council members agreed to talk to Law Director Charles Payne about their options, since he was absent from the meeting.

“Otherwise, we are going to keep going backwards,” Lane concluded.

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