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Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

Interim police chief: Department needed more rifles long ago

Council members question Freeman

By William Kincaid
CELINA - The police department should have had 11 rifles a long time ago, interim police chief Cal Freeman told council members Monday night.
During a review of proposed budgets for the police and fire departments by the personnel and finance committee, councilmen Bill Sell and June Scott asked Freeman about the need for additional firepower. The department has four rifles but Freeman wants to buy seven more at an estimated cost of $6,500.
"So someone comes up to chief Freeman and says, 'do we really need seven AR-15 semiautomatic assault rifles?' What's your response?" Sell asked.
"Well first of all, the AR-15 is kind of a common police term - they're actually .223s," Freeman said, adding they are just a bit larger and faster than .22 rifles.
"That's a military-grade cartridge though, I mean," councilman June Scott said.
"They're not automatic," Freeman said.
"You feel there is a need?" Sell asked.
"Oh yes. It's something that we haven't had for a long time that we should have had long ago," Freeman said.
All 11 cruisers currently contain shotguns; Freeman said he hopes by next year to equip each with AR-15 rifles and dashboard digital video equipment.
Acquiring the extra firepower is important, Freeman told the newspaper, pointing out it's necessary for hostage situations, school shootings and other highly-threatening incidents. Officers could use rifles for long-range shooting - 75 feet or more, he added.
Freeman said dangerous situations can occur in Mercer County and the weaponry is necessary to protect officers and the public.
The $6,700 estimated cost for a crime scene digital camera also was explained. The equipment contains several parts and pieces, such as a mobile lighting unit, and is recommended by the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy, according to Freeman.
"It's a battery-pack, self-contained unit that has basically two large lights mounted into it," he said, noting it could be used to illuminate a crime scene at night.
"This answers my question - it's not just a camera," councilman Mike Sovinski said.
Councilman Jeremy Hinton asked how crime scenes were processed up to this point without such a camera.
"Well, we used what we've had," he said. "We've used BCI (Bureau of Criminal Investigation) in the past. We've used other agencies ... and we've also had our own officers bring their own equipment to process the scene. So this would be city-owned equipment."
The police department's requested capital expense budget was trimmed to $146,700 from $152,350 after a computer and other items were cut. Capital expenses were $92,748 in 2012, $26,905 in 2011 and $482.47 in 2010.
The department also is seeking to purchase three new cruisers - two marked and one unmarked - at an estimated total cost of $81,000.
The fire department is requesting $172,945 in capital expenses, including a new command vehicle estimated at $56,000, a $96,000 payment on its aerial fire truck, and multiple miscellaneous items such as scuba diving vests, chainsaws, a hose, computers and rescue cribbing.
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