Council OKs New Hires For Police, Fire Departments
Efforts to combat rising gun crime and skyrocketing emergency medical service calls were addressed by the Jamestown City Council on Monday.
In a unanimous vote, the council approved the hiring of three additional police officers and four new firefighters using American Rescue Plan Act funds.
“I’m very pleased tonight that the administration and the council were able to work together to come up with really a step in the right direction to deal with not only the rising gun violence that we’re seeing in the city but also the EMS crisis,” Jamestown Mayor Eddie Sundquist told reporters after the council meeting. “I want to be clear; this is a step. This is one step in our process to move forward.”
On the police department side, the new officers will allow for the creation of a unit specific to gun violence prevent and “quality of life issues.” For the fire department, the four new hires will go toward staffing a yet-to-be-purchased second ambulance in an effort to ease what city officials describe as an ongoing “EMS crisis.”
“I’m very thankful, and certainly very appreciative, of the council’s support with bringing on four additional firefighters for the fire department,” said Deputy Fire Chief Matt Coon. “We have a dire need to address the current EMS call volume that we have in the city of Jamestown. Hiring additional personnel will allow us to deploy a second ambulance that is certainly sorely needed to try to help alleviate that burden.”
Though given approval Monday, it will likely take three to six months before the officers and firefighters are hired, trained and begin working.
“We’re hoping to get some people going by the summertime,” said Council President Anthony Dolce, who noted that experienced police officers already on staff will be eyed for the gun violence unit with the new hires used to fill those vacancies, likely in patrol.
Dolce said he was pleased to see the unanimous vote. However, he noted that after the ARPA funds “go away” in about four years, there will be added costs of employing the officers and firefighters that will need to be addressed.
“We’re going to have to figure out in four years, do we get rid of those positions through attrition?” he asked. “Do we continue to fund them after four years?”
Earlier this month, city officials held a press conference at city hall to address public safety concerns. Sundquist noted there were 19 confirmed shootings last year along with 90 confiscated weapons.