by Terry Duffy
In an effort to reach out further to the community, Youngstown Police Chief Chris Salada announced this week a series of new initiatives intended to make his department more visible to village residents and businesses.
"In response to some resident feedback, you will see more foot patrols and bicycle patrols in the village in conjunction with our regular tour of duty in the cruiser," he said.
Salada noted the Youngstown Police operates as a part-time department of five regular officers working eight-hour shifts on a staggered basis, with 10 additional officers on supplemental duty during the busy summer months as needs dictate. Its budget for 2014-15 is $81,000 and includes payroll, equipment, repairs and operations.
All YPD officers are trained by the New York State Division of Criminal Justices Services and complete annual training to maintain proficiency. "The great thing about part-time work is minimal cost to the municipality because the officers do not receive benefits," said Salada. "When hired there is one initial cost for a uniform and annual training, but otherwise if they do not work they are not being paid."
In a presentation this week before the Youngstown Business and Professional Association, Salada reviewed some of the activity officers encounter. Discussing vehicle pullovers/seizures, he showed photos of a semi-auto pistol and rounds of ammo, knives, and an expandable baton, marijuana, pills and other drugs. "It's stuff you don't really think you'd see in Youngstown," he remarked.
Salada said that while marijuana has become fairly common, "Pills are becoming really big, especially in high school. Kids are just taking them from their parents, selling them.
"Unfortunately we're also seeing needles, heroin," he continued. "Ten years ago, you had to go Buffalo for heroin. Not any more. It's a lot closer, unfortunately."
As to enforcement, he explained that one Youngstown Police officer typically patrols the village for an eight-hour shift in order to accommodate the specific needs of the village. Patrols may involve duty in one or two Ford Crown Victoria vehicles that were acquired by YPD via grants, or on occasion on an ATV, also obtained via grant money. Salada said that when weather permits and special events dictate, his officers will have a greater presence on bicycles. "The officers will also be on foot for a good portion of their daily shift, checking on businesses and chatting with residents, to address any concerns."
Salada reported that Youngstown Police is also working on creating a ride-along program where a village resident or business rep. will have the opportunity to accompany an officer on patrol and see first-hand what Youngstown officers actually do. "There is a great deal of multitasking going on inside the police car when on patrol, and unless you are sitting in that car, you do not see it," said Salada. He points out that YPD cruisers are equipped with current technology to aid in modern police work, including a laptop computer, police radio, fire radio, radar unit, lights and siren controls, and license plate reader, in addition to the typical vehicle controls.
He says the department strives for efficiency, but adds it is always looking to improve. For the past two years, YPD has operated on a budget of $78,000. For 2014-15, that is rising to $81,000.
"I try to do my best to keep costs down here in the village," said Salada, pointing to his use of outside resources such as grants. "So we'll have a police department in 10 years.
"We're always looking for ways to increase public safety/service, improve relations with residents (and) utilize the resources we currently have while remaining within our budget and reducing cost.
"With all the cuts (being discussed on the state level and in village circles) I don't want to see them get rid of it. I'll do my best to keep costs down."
Salada closed by encouraging village residents and business to feel free to contact him or the department should they have any questions, concerns or suggestions. Salada can be reached at 745-3623 or via his cell number at 913-1855.