GRIFFITH | Concerns about the size of the police force, vehicle maintenance and hand-held radios were brought before the Town Council on Tuesday by the Griffith Fraternal Order of Police.
FOP Lodge 161 President Albert Tharp said the concerns were listed during their meeting on Monday. He was accompanied by several other Griffith officers.
Tharp said the department is down to 29 officers because two members who retired have not been replaced. He added overtime has been reduced because of the town's financial problems.
"The situation has the potential to erode the police protection to the town and may cause avoidable injury of officers or citizens," Tharp said.
Tharp also noted no new squad cars have been purchased and said more maintenance is needed for the existing ones.
Council President Glen Gaby, R-1, acknowledged the town's finances make new cars unlikely. But he also said that money will be there to perform whatever maintenance is needed for the fleet.
Police Chief Ron Kottka was out of town. The department's second in command, Lt. Mike Gulley, did not return a call Wednesday night asking for comment.
In another concern, Tharp said the officers' hand-held radios are inadequate for communicating with the dispatcher.
"One location of concern is the north Mansards complex, where numerous violent crimes have occurred over past years," he said.
Tharp said the radios simply cannot reach the dispatcher from the inside of the buildings.
Councilmen said that adequate radios will be acquired.
"There is no question that funds are limited this year and will likely be so in 2013," Clerk-treasurer George Jerome said Wednesday. "That is not to say that we do not have funds for necessary expenditures."
Jerome added that the council will never compromise public safety.
"It is, however, the obligation of the police administration to describe their needs and prioritize their requirements," Jerome said.
In a letter to the council, Tharp said the officers' concerns were discussed with the police administration, which subsequently told the FOP that those concerns have been discussed with the Town Council.
"These are issues of importance to the council," Jerome said. "It appears that information is not being adequately conveyed to or from the council and the clerk-treasurer's office."
Council Vice President Rick Ryfa, R-3rd, said Wednesday most of the issues should be resolved by the police administration.
"If not, we directed to FOP to bring their issues to the next Safety Board meeting."