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Two laid off Liverpool cops recalled

EAST LIVERPOOL — The city police officer who is preparing to exit the department had a few words for council in support of bringing back the furloughed police officers during Monday’s meeting; however, it seemed that officials already had decided to do so.

After Mayor Greg Bricker and Safety-Service Director David Dawson announced that Hunter Maze and Jay Lane were being recalled from layoff, one of the first tasks that Lane did was retrieve his bulletproof vest from a department locker after the meeting.

Officers, most in street clothes, turned out in mass for the session.

Anthony Savina, who is leaving Aug. 10, took the opportunity to reiterate some parting words that he had shared with city administrators last week when deciding to leave the department.

He explained that officers have answered 2,236 calls so far this year, and 992 of those were on an afternoon shift now depleted by absenteeism, vacations and furloughs.

Describing the lack of adequate staffing, Savina outlined how he has had to answer calls alone involving people who were promising to shoot him, wanting to die via suicide by cop, a mentally ill individual who was refusing to show his hands at an East End group home. He spoke about the many times it could have ended badly if it wasn’t for mutual aid from other departments.

The safety of this city is not good and especially for its first responders, he said, adding, “Why should (these police officers) protect a city that is not protecting them.”

In fact, he said that he and Capt. Chad Tatgenhorst were forced to work over on July 11, costing the city more than $774 in overtime, so Savina questioned how that could possibly be saving money.

“Seven officers are up for retirement, and if they don’t change, more may follow me (on my way out),” he said before urging officials not to “sleep on this as one of these men could be protecting your family.”

During his report, Safety-Service Director Dawson confirmed that they were bringing back Lane and Maze after recently telling them.

Mayor Bricker also reiterated the news and confirmed that it was just his administration’s “way to dig its way out of the hole (they) were left.”

“The last thing I want is an unsafe city,” he added.

“We are desperately trying to save money,” Bricker said, explaining that even moving employees and expenses out of the general fund will help. Otherwise, the city is probably looking at entry into the state auditor’s fiscal watch status come 2021.

All council members welcomed Jay Lane back during their closing comments. Maze didn’t appear to be in attendance at the meeting.

Councilman Ray Perorazio commented that he believes that Bricker and Dawson want to bring back the furloughed officers, expressing his belief that this was all caused by the defeat of the traffic cameras at the polls.

Councilman Fred Rayl, who chairs the finance committee, reminded everyone that the city is a business and credited the city’s administration for being able to knock that debt down from $400,000 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected everyone.

“I would like to see 30 police officers here, but the budget dictates that,” he added.

Council President John Torma also expressed his appreciation for the ELPD. “I thank you for putting your lives on the line. It takes a special type of person to do that.”

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