JAMESTOWN – Expired bullet proof vests, the need to replace worn out police vehicles, and address understaffing issues within the Jamestown Police Department was discussed in Jamestown on Wednesday night.
Around a dozen plus residents spoke directly with local law enforcement and civil leaders during a neighborhood safety night hosted by County Legislator Elisabeth Rankin at Christ First United Methodist Church.
In the wake of a fatal shooting this week, several residents were concerned with the increase in violent crime over the past few years.
In addition to public safety in general, officer safety was also a leading topic, with City Councilman Jeff Russell concerned about the number of expired bulletproof vests still on the streets.
“The manufacturer won’t warranty these vests after a period of five years, so you have half of the police department that are wearing vests that are outdated,” said Russell. “Myself, I wore the same vest for approximately 20 years, so 15 of those years those vests were outdated.”
The former Jamestown Police Officer is pushing to use some of the $28 million from the American Rescue Plan to improve the department. An idea Jamestown Resident Doug Champ supports.
“I’ve been a dog person, so I’m not against dogs, I just don’t think the City of Jamestown with all of its needs, especially when you look at equipment that we don’t have available to protect and perform the job the police department needs to do, then the dog park is in essence of public safety,” explained Champ, who thinks the city should restructure their current spending plan.
It is not just the vests that need upgrades, but the police’s vehicle inventory with many cars in poor condition, having over 100,000 miles, and outdated radio equipment as well.
Councilman Russell also asked the officers about understaffing concerns. With the current high call volume the officers say many first responders don’t even get a lunch or dinner break.
“I would like to see exactly what the Chief asked for, I believe he asked for five more police officers, I would like to see that, if possible,” said Russell. “But like Councilman Dolce stated, the concern is after a period of time are those positions going to be sustainable when that money runs out?”
Previously, the Mayor’s Office held several public input sessions to hear directly from residents who brought up those concerns. Among key areas discussed was improving neighborhoods and building a healthy community by providing more resources for those struggling with drug addiction.