Ford City, PA Police Car Up and Running Thanks to Donation

From The Tribune-Review by Brigid Beatty, June 26, 2014

Things appear to be looking up for the Ford City police department, with all three patrol cars back on the streets and with possible new hires on the horizon.

After about four months of car trouble, the department on Tuesday finally got the newest vehicle — a 2009 Ford Crown Victoria — up and running.

“We’re pretty excited,” said Sgt. John Atherton, officer-in-charge. “The transmission has been fixed, and we put in a new computer system — a Panasonic Toughbook. It’s another tool to combat crime.”

The computer is designed to help law enforcement officials conduct background searches and can withstand vibrations caused by traveling over western Pennsylvania roads, Atherton said.

Transmission repairs were paid for by a $1,900 donation from the Ford City Fraternal Order of Eagles.

Atherton said he and the department are grateful to the organization for helping out.

He is also glad to have gotten a positive response from council on Monday about possibly filling positions recently vacated by two part-time officers who resigned from the department.

Atherton and Sgt. Mark Brice are the department’s only full-time policemen. The remainder of the department is made up of 12 part-timers, with only five of those working 32 hours a week.

“If one of the five gets sick, it would put a strain on the department,” Atherton said. “We’ve been very fortunate that over the past couple of years, we’ve kept overtime to a minimum.”

Filling the vacated positions would ensure keeping future overtime costs low and would prevent officer fatigue from having to work back-to-back shifts, he said. Atherton recommended that council hire between four and six additional part-time officers.

Council voted 3-2 to begin the hiring process by conducting interviews with potential candidates. As of Monday, there were seven applicants.

Councilman Josh Abernathy abstained, and Councilman Jerry Miklos opposed the measure. Councilman Scott Gaiser was absent.

“It’s hard for me to understand how we can’t run a police department with 14 or 16,” Miklos said.

But according to Mayor Marc Mantini, having at least 18 officers on board is a matter of public safety because it helps ensure an adequate stream of police coverage.

“We need this pipeline,” Mantini said. “Once the pipeline ceases, we’ll be in trouble.”

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