Perry trustees approve purchase of police radios

PERRY TOWNSHIP — Township trustees agreed Monday to a request by Police Chief Mike Emigh to purchase new mobile radios for the department’s four cruisers to improve communication with Salem Police after an issue was discovered recently.

Salem’s police department recently switched to a new digital radio system that’s encrypted, meaning their radio traffic can’t be heard on scanners by the public. The new system has improved signal reach in areas where Salem had problems and also improved officer safety since people can’t listen in.

According to Emigh, though, the channel switch has also made it difficult for Perry Township officers to communicate with Salem officers.

“We’ve had a couple of issues,” he said, pointing to a stolen vehicle call Monday when the driver abandoned the car and fled on foot.

The department was still able to communicate through their dispatch at the Columbiana County Sheriff’s Office, and get assistance from Salem, but he said the new radios would be compatible so Perry Township police could communicate with Salem and still talk to the Perry fire and road departments and each other.

The four radios cost $644 each, with the total bill $2,576 from Air Comm headquartered in Phoenix, Ariz. Emigh said they’re dual frequency. He also said he attempted to send a request to the Salem Community Foundation to see if the group could help with the funding. Trustee Jim Armeni told the chief he cannot request money from SCF without the board knowing.

“We need the communication,” Trustee Don Rudibaugh said, moving for the immediate purchase.

Armeni said he was bothered because one group changes radios, it “causes us an expense.”

Trustee Chair Cliff Mix said they can’t let the police department sit without being able to communicate with the city.

All three trustees voted to approve the expense.

In another police matter, township resident Maria Harrold questioned the trustees about the police budget and whether they were still thinking about an officer for the Columbiana County Drug Task Force. Mix said they’re still looking at that, noting that they can’t do anything until they see on paper what they can afford. Previously, it had been said that they should know more about the expenses after the first quarter is over, which is the end of this month. When asked if trustees were considering hiring another full-time police officer, Mix said he spoke with Emigh and Emigh didn’t seem to think they needed one. The department has four full-time officers and five part-time officers.

Emigh, who had been on a medical call, walked into the meeting at that time and confirmed what he said to Mix, saying if they can hire another part-timer, that may be enough, but he said he won’t know for sure until he sees his figures for the end of the quarter.

The trustees also approved an expense for the fire department of $1,190 from Alliance Motors to change the oil and all the various filters on two fire trucks, including the oil filter, air filter and hydraulics filter. Chief Bruce Whitcher told them he’ll have some information for them on another expense for a yearly inspection of air bottles and tanks and two more sets of turnout gear. They said they can’t make a decision until they see a quote.

The next trustee meeting is 6:30 p.m. May 13.

mgreier@salemnews.net

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