STEUBENVILLE - Sixth Ward Councilman David Lalich will ask his colleagues to consider a traffic camera program in order to "free up police officers to work in our neighborhoods."
"As chairman of the council safety committee, I am prepared to raise the issue again for discussion by the council members," said Lalich.
"If we bring the cameras back we will have more officers to utilize in the crime areas of the city," Lalich declared.
He said he was responding to two shooting incidents in the LaBelle neighborhood last week and comments made by Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 1 President Jim Marquis on Monday.
Marquis addressed a Friday afternoon shooting that saw one man killed and his cousin wounded on Pittsburgh Street as well as a Saturday evening armed robbery on Maryland Avenue where the suspect exchanged gunfire with two responding police officers.
Three Chicago men were arrested for the Friday shooting, and a city man was immediately arrested following the Saturday robbery and shooting incident.
"I will definitely bring this issue up with the other council members. We need more officers in the neighborhoods where there have been criminal activity. The police are very effective running radar in the city but the traffic cameras can do that work and allow the officers to be used more effectively to fight crime," Lalich said.
Police Chief Bill McCafferty agreed and said he has always been a supporter of the automated traffic camera system.
"The traffic cameras have been used in Europe for years and are actually very effective. When I am in my personal vehicle I see a number of red light violations as well as turning left on red violations and speeders. We have officers running radar and patrolling the high traffic areas of the city but they could be used in the neighborhoods more effectively," stated McCafferty.
"If the traffic violators know there are cameras on the streets they will obey the traffic laws. And if officers are patrolling known crime areas they will be a deterrent to the criminal activity," McCafferty said.
"We have a set number of police officers who we schedule as efficiently as possible. The traffic cameras would allow us a little more flexibility in our work," he added.
"This is also about safety and saving lives. We don't have enough officers to dedicate them to the school zones. If we put an officer in a school zone he can be pulled out if another call comes in. And I have phone calls on a regular basis from people talking about speeding cars in their neighborhoods," said McCafferty.
Lalich raised the traffic camera issue last August but saw immediate opposition from 3rd Ward Councilman Greg Metcalf.
"The citizens overwhelmingly said no to cameras before. I agree with keeping school zones safe. But I hate to see us adopt this and just say they are back. Our citizens have a right to vote on this. I want citizens to be very aware of this and see what our citizens think about this. Our officers are doing a good job. I am not sure this is the correct way to do this," Metcalf said in August.
Other council members expressed support for the idea in August.
"I have no problem putting the cameras back as long as we do it correctly. I get five to seven calls a week from people with concerns about drivers speeding through neighborhoods," said 2nd Ward Councilman Rick Perkins.
Councilman at large Kenny Davis said, "the times are different than six years ago. We have more issues and fewer police officers. Nobody likes changes, but this is to better protect our town."
"Our citizens want their neighborhoods protected. This is one answer," remarked 5th Ward Councilman Willie Paul.
During an Aug. 7 council meeting Law Director S. Gary Repella said he had been contacted by two residents, "who said they are prepared to