Home News City Committee Discusses Funding for Police Department Positions and Vehicle Outfitting

City Committee Discusses Funding for Police Department Positions and Vehicle Outfitting

city council, city of Circleville

Committee Members Address Funding Needs and Vehicle Safety Concerns

Date: May 28, 2024

In a Circleville committee meeting held on Tuesday evening, members convened to discuss two critical matters: funding for police department positions and addressing safety concerns regarding police vehicle outfitting. Present at the meeting were committee members Katie Logan Hedges, Jeff Hallinin, and Tom Duvall, along with City Auditor Mark Bidwell along with Mayor Michelle Blanton.

Once the formalities were concluded, the committee delved into the first order of business: an ordinance amending the annual appropriation ordinance and various funds within the city budget.

Melissa, the committee secretary, read the ordinance aloud, detailing amendments to several funds, including the Safety Forces Point 5% Tax Fund and the Addiction Treatment Grant Fund. Of particular interest was the allocation of $89,938.25 from budget 227 for police cruiser outfitting. Mark Bidwell provided context, explaining the need for additional funding due to unexpected expenses incurred during the outfitting process.

Questions arose regarding the delayed discovery of the outstanding invoices and the process leading to the need for additional funds. Bidwell clarified that the invoices were brought to his attention in February, prompting further investigation into the matter. The Mayor reported that a Circleville Captain had planned for the vehicles to be outfitted, the former Police Chief made the decision to re-outfit.

Concerns were voiced regarding the safety implications of improperly outfitted police vehicles, prompting Deputy Acting Deputy Chief Farley to provide insight into the matter. He emphasized the importance of standardized equipment for officer safety and highlighted the challenges posed by unfamiliar vehicle configurations.

“It’s a safety concern,” said Farley, “having sirens, lights, and even guns in the wrong place could be a big problem. Imagine grabbing for a less lethal gun, and grabbing a lethal one. It’s not safe.”

The committee expressed frustration over the unexpected financial burden and the lack of foresight in budget planning. However, recognizing the importance of rectifying the situation for officer safety, the committee unanimously agreed to move forward with allocating the necessary funds.

In the second part of the meeting, the committee discussed an ordinance establishing part-time positions within the police department. Questions were raised regarding the timing of the funding request and the potential impact on the city’s finances.

Bidwell acknowledged that while funding had been allocated in previous budgets, the necessary language regarding compensation had not been included until now. He clarified that the ordinance aimed to ensure parity in pay and qualifications between part-time and full-time positions within the department.

Committee members sought clarification on the hiring process and the potential impact on the city’s budget. Bidwell assured them that careful consideration had been given to financial implications, and hiring decisions would be made judiciously.

After a thorough discussion, the committee voted to move forward with the ordinance, pending approval at the next council meeting.

As the meeting adjourned, committee members reflected on the challenges faced and reaffirmed their commitment to ensuring the safety and efficiency of the city’s police department.