One city resident is concerned that public safety is getting shorted in Jamestown’s proposed plan for spending over $28 million dollars in American Rescue Plan monies.
Doug Champ spoke before the City Council’s Public Safety Committee and at last night’s work session, saying Chautauqua County had designated 4% of their ARP money toward public safety, “Such things as new hand guns, personal ballistic vests, body and mail scanners; communications upgrades, message boards, EOC upgrades.. whatever that is, replace a dive boat, EMC equipment, and additional money for the District Attorney’s office. $985,000 for those. We’re doing nothing for our Police and Fire Departments.”
Champ said public safety and public health are supposed to be the number one addressed items in the use of ARP funds.
Champ asked the condition of police vehicles to which Jamestown Police Chief Tim Jackson said aside from one new car, the vehicles were in poor condition with each having mileage of around 100 to 150-thousand miles.
Councilmember At Large Jeff Russell, who is a retired police officer, asked Chief Jackson about the state of handheld radios used by officers. Jackson responded, “A lot of the officers have to share because the radios are broke and they can’t be repaired. The batteries are bad. We need new radios.”
Russell, “Can they not be repaired because they’re outdated?”
Jackson, “They’re outdated and the batteries are very expensive.”
Russell, “Would you agree with me that a police officer’s lifeline is their radio that they’re carrying with them out on the street?”
Jackson, “Yes, communication is what it all rests on.”
Jackson also said 32 of the bulletproof vests officers use are outdated and not covered by the manufacturer any longer. Councilmember Brent Sheldon asked if JPD had been asked to submit any requests for use of American Rescue Plan funds to which Jackson said every department had submitted a wish list.
Councilmember At Large Kim Ecklund said the Finance Committee chose not to act on the resolution regarding the American Rescue Plan master plan in anticipation of additional conversations over the coming weeks.
In other business, Councilmember Brent Sheldon said he’s noted a lot of neighboring communities have voted to opt-out of allowing cannabis dispensaries and on-site consumption locations. He said the state has not come out with promised regulations yet which makes it difficult for municipalities to decide what to do, “Also, with part of the law if you don’t opt out now, you’re opting in and you can’t opt out later and that just does not make sense to me. If you have problems in the future, you should be able to opt out. So I think this is something we need to discuss as a full body, as a full council, look into it more, see if there’s things happening at the state level. The new Governor has appointed several people to the Commission but the rules still have not been promulgated at this point.”
The Public Safety Committee did approve a motion to set trick-or-treating hours for Halloween in the City of Jamestown for 6pm to 8pm. The City will again not hold a Halloween Fun Fest this year due to it not being funded in the city’s budget.
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