Warren struggles to find qualified officers and put income tax d - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Warren struggles to find qualified officers and put income tax dollars to use

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WARREN, Ohio -

More than a year and a half ago, Warren taxpayers approved a half percent income tax increase to help hire more officers. But with 63 officers currently on the payroll, the city still falls short of their goal of 70 officers.

"Getting the pool of candidates is not a problem that's unique to Warren, it's a problem all across the country," said Mayor Doug Franklin.

In order to keep more officers on the street, Franklin said city leaders have approved more overtime dollars. 

"Which is in line with what our promise was to have more people on the streets," said the mayor.

Last weekend, 24 potential officers took a civil service test in the city. The police chief said 21 of those candidates passed the test. The mayor said those numbers are encouraging, but said the city won't lower it's standards just to put more bodies in uniform.

"(Our process has) resulted in better community policing, less citizens complaints. We have a great rapport, to some extent, with a lot of our communities that we might not have had in the past," said Franklin.

Councilman-at-Large Eddie Colbert said he also wants qualified officers on the street, but says if the city can't find the officers they want by a certain time frame. He would like to see other efforts made.

"My hope is that the administration gives itself a drop-dead date," said Colbert. "If we do not have the amount of officers in which we are seeking and we find that the procedures we are putting in place do not have the desired outcome, there's some changes in the procedures of how we go about recruiting the officers."

One suggestion Colbert made is the possibility of hiring provisional officers or a plan similar in operation.

"I'm hoping by throwing out some of these examples of things we could do, it will spur the conversation and possibly spawn other ideas, possibly better ideas, to be able to recruit more officers in a more timely fashion," said Colbert.

If the city is able to reach the goal of 70 officers, Warren would qualify to apply for what's called a COPS grant. If approved for the grant, the federal dollars would help hire three more officers and potentially bring the city's police force to 73.

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