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New Cumberland Council discusses police issues

January 4, 2012
By MARK J. MILLER - Staff writer ( , The Herald-Star

NEW CUMBERLAND - Police issues were discussed during Tuesday's City Council meeting.

Debbie Marks of 907 Third Ave. approached council with issues of concern to her and other city residents about the City Police.

"I don't want anyone here to take this personally," said Marks, the wife of 2nd Ward Councilman Shawn Marks. "I've tried to make it to a (police committee meeting), but it hasn't happened."

Marks said she was concerned officers aren't paid enough by the city to stay. She added that the city needed a full-time police chief.

"We need a full-time police chief,' said Marks. "The officers also should be allowed to take the cruisers home. They need to be paid enough so they will stay."

Marks said many residents were concerned about the city's growing drug problem, and more officers were needed to help stem the tide. The city has three full-time officer, two part-time officers and Chief Lester Skinner, who also is a sergeant with the Wellsburg Police.

Marks continued to say a stable and robust police force should be a top priority to help citizens combat the drug problem.

"It's all true," said 2nd Ward Councilman Arthur Watson, who echoed Marks' concerns. "We do pay for the officers' uniforms."

It was also said at the meeting the city also pays for officer's firearms.

"This needs to go to the police committee," said 1st Ward Councilman Pat Jones.

Watson also recommended Marks attend a future police committee meeting to voice her concerns.

"If you don't have success there, come to the next (council) meeting," he said.

In other matters:

Councilman Shawn Marks said he was interested in helping found a drug prevention program in the city to be held one Friday evening a month at the former city building at the corner of Jefferson and North River streets. Marks asked council members if they would give him permission to use the former council chambers as a meeting place for city citizens concerned about drug abuse.

"We do have a drug problem here," Marks said, citing the need for a serious drug prevention program. "I don't know if anyone would show up. You know we have problems here, but a lot of people don't know where to go. Nothing bad could come out of this."

Council voted to allow Marks the use of the building.

Jones said he was concerned council meeting agendas weren't being posted in time for him to know what issues would be discussed. Jones added state law requires the agenda to be posted at least 72 hours prior to council meetings.

"If I don't know what's on the agenda, I feel like I'm being blindsided," said Jones, adding he wanted to have time enough to discuss pending issues with his constituents.

City law solicitor Kevin Pearl agreed with Jones. However, he added residents couldn't be prevented from showing up at the meetings and discussing issues of concern, even if they weren't on the agenda. He also said he didn't believe committee meetings needed to be posted in advance because no action is taken during those meetings. The city clerk said she would have agendas posted in advance.

There will be a meeting of the festival and parade committee at 5 p.m. Thursday; a meeting of the sewer committee at 5 p.m. Monday; a meeting of the finance committee with the time to be announced on Jan. 12; and a meeting of the streets committee at 5 p.m.. Jan. 18. All meetings will be in council chambers. There will be a special meeting of council 5 p.m. Jan. 12 to discuss city matters.

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