Steubenville police getting body cameras
STEUBENVILLE ― The police department is getting body cameras.
At Tuesday’s meeting, City Manager Jim Mavromatis said the auditor signed off on spending up to $220,000 to purchase the cameras, to be paid for with federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funds.
“It’s difficult spending all that CARES Act money with the restrictions they put on it,” he said. “But we got a legal opinion and got the auditors to sign off on it.”
He said the cameras will enable the city to track police contacts with the general public, pointing out Jefferson County is up to 406 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, averaging about three new cases a day. He said about 12 cases are being monitored right now.
“Our officers have been coming into areas where people there have been contacted with the virus,” he said. “This will enable us to do back tracing.”
Mavromatis said the next step is to prepare an ordinance for council’s consideration.
“The standards are set up by each state,” he said. “We have clearly followed what our governor put out, what our auditor put out. It took us a good two weeks to do research on body cameras.”
“We wanted them to have body cameras and there was no room in our budget,” 5th Ward Councilman Willie Paul said.
“It’s a blessing for us, just like the ambulances were,” Mavromatis said.
Council previously agreed to use CARES funding to purchase the ambulances needed for a new ambulance service, which is slated to begin work Sunday.
Paul told council the fire department needs council to add two positions to the fire department’s Table of Organization through the end of the year, when staff will revert to normal levels.
He said Fire Chief Carlo Capaldi already has hired two EMTs to staff the ambulances, but he needs to hire two more firefighters to plug holes in the ranks created by the pending retirement of one officer.
“He needs to start the hiring process now, he can’t wait for the expected retirement of the firefighter (in a few weeks). He needs to get things started,” Paul said.
City Law Director Costa Mastros said the change would be temporary, and the Table of Organization would revert back to normal staffing levels by the end of December.
Emergency legislation amending the Table of Organization will be brought to council Tuesday.
As a precaution, Mavromatis also said the city is going to pay Wintersville firefighters for another month of emergency services coverage in Steubenville until the new employees can get a handle on the demand for services.
“Right now, until we measure how the calls are, we’ll go another 30 days with them. They’ve been doing a good job and we’ve been fortunate to purchase that with CARES money,” he said.
Council also agreed to lease a storage facility that could accommodate the ambulances and fire trucks, paying $800 a month for space in the old DiNova building, and signed off on the closing of the Flats tot lot, allow the parks and recreation board to move the equipment to other places in the system where it’s needed.