Salem City Auditor Jim Armeni says he has the city's best financial interest at heart with his inquiry about merging the city police department with the Columbiana County Sheriff's Department. But we can't help wonder, is this the best way to provide for the city's safety?
Recently, Armeni announced he had sent Columbiana County Sheriff Ray Stone an "official inquiry" to study incorporating the Salem Police Department into the sheriff's department.
Armeni may have labeled his letter an "official inquiry," but subsequent information revealed that the auditor was acting alone in his research of the matter and may have overstepped the authority of his office in approaching the sheriff about a merger.
Salem Mayor Jerry Wolford was right to quickly distance himself from the merger idea. Wolford said he did not personally plan to propose or to support any plans abolishing or disbanding the police department or the fire department in Salem.
With the option Armeni is contemplating, the police officers would become sheriff's deputies, and Armeni believes this would preserve the police protection in the city, as well as save the jobs of as many police officers as possible.
Salem Police Chief Bob Floor obviously doesn't agree and can't see where any savings would be realized. "Basically I don't see how this would work. We're going backwards. There are villages and townships with police departments. We would be the second-largest city in the county ... and without a police department if that occurred."
We can't see how it would work, either. We also don't understand why, instead of going off on his own with police merger proposals, Armeni doesn't sit down with the mayor, council, police department and fire department and come up with a plan for a safety levy to adequately fund both departments.
The people of Salem were very vocal with their opposition to a prior proposal to create a fire district, now they should step up to the plate to fund both a fire and police department with a levy to maintain the safety of their community.