SALINEVILLE - Village council unanimously approved a new ordinance for the formation of an auxiliary police unit, which officials say will bolster police presence at special events and on daily patrols.
Prior to being approved by council on Monday, the ordinance to form a auxiliary police unit had undergone several revisions. Originally presented to council earlier this year, village solicitor Andy Beech had raised concerns about the language of the ordinance, which had been drafted by Police Chief Andrew Straley.
Beech urged council to revise portions of the ordinance before adopting it, contending it was unclear about the role of auxiliary police. In the months that followed, Beech worked with Straley to clarify the ordinance's language.
On Monday, Beech told council he had recently given Straley a revised final copy of the ordinance, but had not heard back from the chief as to whether or not the ordinance met his requirements. Some council members spoke up, saying they had discussed the ordinance with Straley and he had approved the changes.
According to the final draft, auxiliary police will have "all police powers," but will perform only the duties assigned to them by the chief.
Straley said, for now, members of the auxiliary will act primarily in a support role to the department's part-time officers.
"They will act mostly as our eyes and ears," said Straley.
As for carrying a firearm, Straley said auxiliaries cannot do so unless they are OPOTA-certified and have all the necessary training and certifications required by the state. He noted they will have the ability to take reports, patrol with actual officers and detain a suspects in a felony scenario.
Although they will have police powers, auxiliary officers will serve on a "voluntary basis," meaning they will receive no pay. However, these officers will be covered by workers compensation. The ordinance also states that auxiliary officers will act as officers only when in official uniform. As for the expense of purchasing and maintaining the uniform, that is the responsibility of each auxiliary officer.
Straley said following Monday's meeting that he expects the auxiliary officers to be an asset to his department.