Wellsville’s police chief seeks cameras, computers in cruisersBy JO ANN BOBBY-GILBERT/Staff Writer
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WELLSVILLE For police Chief Joe Scarabino, acquiring new technology for his department is a priority.
"It's (heck) living in the Jetsons' age as the Flintstones," Scarabino told members of the village Crime Watch group at a meeting last week while discussing his equipment needs.
Asked by Mayor Joe Surace whether the department is "up to snuff" in regard to its equipment, Scarabino said he would like to see dashboard cameras and computers in the cruisers at some point.
While not certain of the exact cost, he estimated a dash-cam might set the department back $2,500 and said that while the idea of in-car computers is nice, his first priority would be the cameras.
"The cameras work both ways," he said, saying they protect the suspect from being mistreated by an officer and an officer from being accused of wrongdoing.
"I've got my guy out there, videoing, and Heaven forbid, something goes wrong. We've got it on camera," he pointed out.
One member agreed, saying, "There are new people in town all the time. You have officers stopping all these new faces. They have to have something."
Most recent equipment acquisition has been through donations, the chief said.
"What we've gotten recently didn't cost the village a dime. They were all donations. I'll take what I can get," Scarabino admitted.
New 45-caliber Glock handguns, four new shotguns, even two cruisers, have been bought with donated funds. This week, officers will participate in a demonstration of "stingers," a type of less-lethal weaponry Scarabino hopes to purchase.
He's also looking at getting new batteries for the portable radios officers carry, which have seen better days and need replaced, saying, "It's not a complete fix but it's better than none. That's their lifeline."
Word went out late last week that both Wellsville and East Liverpool may receive some additional funding for their police departments, and Scarabino is anxiously awaiting more information on the estimated $30,000 the village may get.
His idea for the additional funding is to add another full-time officer, with hope that village council will then be "proactive" and hire another full-time officer to prepare for the influx of people expected from construction of the Baard Energy plant.
"Somebody around here needs to step up to the plate. These (officers) are being paid poverty wages and carrying a gun and it's bull .... I've got a kid driving here every day from Akron (who) never misses a day of work just because he wants to be a policeman. What's that say about his dedication?" Scarabino asked, adding, "There are sacrifices being made by all my officers and I get told there's no money. But they put $50,000 to $60,000 into a roof on this place. It's frustrating."
He continued, "I can put the seed in the ground but if you don't give me the water and nutrients, it's going to rot in the ground."
Scarabino pointed out that Magistrate's Court has generated $424,483 between its inception in 2003 and last year, all of which is placed in the general fund.
The police department is funded from the general fund but does not receive the entire estimated $70,000 annually generated by court, he indicated.
Surace pointed out, "That $70,000 probably saved us a couple of times."
Somewhat heatedly, Scarabino responded, "You have a state-of-the-art facility (Baard Energy) coming in up the hill and you need to be proactive now, not reactive. Lay the groundwork now, that's what we're trying to do. I'm proud of each and every guy over there (in his department)."
Scarabino reported to the group that his officers will offer a presentation on some aspect of the law at monthly meetings, starting with the April 9 session when juvenile officer Marsha Eisenhart will offer a talk on child abuse awareness.
The group voted to change its monthly meetings from Mondays to 6 p.m. the second Thursday of each month in hope of generating more attendance. The public is urged to participate.