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Towing Subject of Safety Meeting
Monday, December 05, 2011 1:52:49 PM - Monroe Ohio

by Angela Wasson

From the public Safety Committee of Council meeting minutes:

The Public Safety Committee of Council met at 6:00 pm on November 15, 2011 in the Council Library located at 233 South Main Street, Monroe, Ohio.

Present were: Steve Black, Council Member; Todd Hickman, Council Member; William J. Brock, City Manager; Gregory C. Homer, Chief of Police; Lieutenant Frank Robinson; Lieutenant Brian Curlis; and Angela S. Wasson, Assistant to the City Manager.

Lieutenant Robinson explained a proposal that would allow for a charge of $175.00 per tow with the City receiving $75.00 of it. The City of Middletown has its own tow lots, but Monroe is proposing to have vehicles towed to the towing companies lot and we would send them a bill for $75.00 per tow made. In addition, the City would receive money if they have abandoned vehicles that are sold.

Mr. Black asked about the City’s liability for contracting out to a tow service. Mr. Brock noted the only difference is the City would be charging a fee now. Lieutenant Robinson advised that we have eight towing places we can go with and they are all well insured.
Mr. Hickman asked if we could bid this out. Lieutenant Robinson explained that having several different companies is good because some only tow heavy equipment, some only have roll backs, and some only do smaller tows.

Chief Homer indicated that we are only changing the fee received and formalizing a contract with these companies.
Mr. Black asked about referencing the different laws in the contract. Chief Homer did not agree with referencing all of the laws in the contract.

Mr. Hickman asked how many tows per year were made. Chief Homer did not have that information; however, advised that it seems like with every accident there will be a tow.

Mr. Hickman is concerned about vehicles being towed for snow. Chief Homer emphasized that towing is a last resort due to the snow. The Chief stated that calls for towing vehicles will only be City initiated and not something the tow companies would do on their own.

Chief Homer explained that the snow emergency is put out on CodeRed and they have also been sent as an email alert.
Chief we put out the CodeRed and on the website for snow emergencies and we have even put out something that it is going to snow to be prepared for a snow emergency.
Mr. Black had no objection provided that it is reviewed by the Law Director.

Chief Homer brought up the Selective Traffic Enforcement Program. He wrote the program for Sharonville approximately 20 years ago and they are continuing to use it. It makes money for the City, is an overtime traffic program, enforces the traffic laws, prevents crashes, and increases the budget. It requires the officers to do certain things otherwise they cannot work the program. They cannot get paid overtime to drive around. Mr. Black requested historical data for the last four or five years from Sharonville. He also asked if compensatory time could be used as well as overtime. The Chief advised that it could be.

Mr. Hickman was not in favor of this regardless what the numbers are. Chief Homer informed him it would generate more than $50,000 in revenue. Mr. Hickman felt that it is probably more than $50,000 in the perception it would give the residents. Chief Homer explained that you will have some saying we are keeping the roads safe and some that will say we are setting up speed traps. Mr. Black asked about utilizing part of this as regular time. Chief Homer advised that all officers run traffic, but they also do patrol, checking businesses, etc. Mr. Black asked about implementing some of this on a 50% basis to one of the on duty officers. Chief Homer felt it is hard because you do not know what is going to be happening that day. You could have a day where an office writes a lot of tickets because there is nothing else going on.

Mr. Hickman asked where he felt the worst places are in the City for speeding or running a stop light. Chief Homer replied that the high speed roads are Cincinnati-Dayton, State Route 63, and you have subdivision collector streets.
Mr. Hickman asked if he has looked into the use of cameras. Chief Homer responded that he is not a fan of the cameras, but there are cameras that work well in a low speed traffic areas and some that hook onto school buses to take a picture if they are passed. There are also cameras that can determine the speed of a vehicle and if it doesn’t appear they are going to make the light, the light remains yellow to avoid an auto accident.

Chief Homer is proposing changing the schedule of the officers as the officers have been on frozen shifts since 2005. He currently has 13 officers with less than four years experience and have all been working the one shift for those one to four years. He pointed out that it does not make for a well experienced officer. The veteran officers are not happy, but they would like the four and two schedule. They will work an 8.5 hour day versus an 8 hour day and their days come in different increments. Over a year it works out the same or 8 hours less. It is not a whole lot of difference but there will be changes in the contract.

Mr. Black asked when the overtime would kick in. Chief Homer explained that it is currently 80 hours, but with this program it is hours over and above normally scheduled hours other than sick time. It is no change from what we are doing now. Mr. Brock wants to make sure that is not per day and that it is per pay period.

Mr. Hickman asked if they work their four days at 8.5 hours and they pick up the next day, would they get overtime for that entire next day? Chief Homer said it depends on what happens the following week or they flex their time.

Mr. Black asked if we get paid for the School Resource Officer (SRO). Chief Homer replied that the City is not getting paid and he is working three days a week at the school, but the benefits received is tremendous and outweighs the money that was received. Mr. Black asked about the number of calls received from the school. Chief Homer had no way to tell because the SRO is already there and receives the calls by phone. Lieutenant Robinson pointed out that the SRO also has the D.A.R.E. Program. Mr. Black pointed out that D.A.R.E. pays for itself. Chief Homer stated that during the day the largest population is at the school. Mr. Black felt that the SRO could be utilized as part of the S.T.E.P Program. Chief Homer advised that he has a Community Resource Officer as well and he spends a long of time with the businesses. It is good public relations and the alarm drops have decreased.

Mr. Brock indicated that Chief Homer’s perspective is asking for an additional $105,000 for a S.T.E.P. Program and at the same time talk about the SRO and CRO that are not generating revenue. Chief Homer stated that we are not here just to make money. Mr. Black referred to the budget and looking at ways we can cut and we have a full time SRO that he didn’t think was going to be here. Regardless of the benefit, we just don’t have the money. Mr. Hickman stated that it is going to all fall on Mr. Brock. It is wrong for us to come in and tell you how to run your business, but Mr. Brock needs to make sure you stay within the budget. Mr. Hickman also though the SRO was not going to be at the school because the City was not receiving money for it. Chief Homer and Lieutenant Robinson felt that the CSO and SRO are a benefit to the community and worth the money to have the SRO at the school.

Mr. Black commented that the school said they are not going to pay for it so obviously it wasn’t important enough to them. Mr. Black is concerned after looking at the staffing that we have and a shrinking budget. Chief Homer is also concerned as he is losing his Administrative Assistant and a dispatcher. Mr. Black felt if the S.T.E.P. Program creates an enormous amount of money he could see it, but you need to look at public perception as Mr. Hickman pointed out.

Mr. Hickman thought the program would create more overtime. Chief Homer replied that it is not going to change the overtime and will save on sick time.

As a topic for a future meeting, Mr. Brock said he had concerns on the EMS service as there is no cost benefit analysis. EMS is not a service that is required and we need to have a very in depth conversation on what type of service we provide as the costs per run continue to increase. Mr. Black stated that it is similar to the water rates if we don’t knw what we are spending.

Mr. Black asked about the status of the K-9. Mr. Brock responded that a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed reducing the City’s cost about $9,500 per year.

The Public Safety Committee meeting adjourned at 7:25 pm.

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