SALAMANCA — After more than two months of discussion, the Salamanca Common Council has approved the use of a city police department vehicle by the on-call police investigator.

The council at its regular meeting Wednesday voted 4-1 to allow the on-call investigator to use the vehicle if called in while at home, a proposal Acting Police Chief Jamie Deck first made in March.

Deck said if the investigator is called out on a case from home, they would be able to report directly to the scene without having to check into the police department first and pick up their gear, which could reduce arrival time during an incident.

Over the next four council meetings, council members discussed the pros and cons of the investigator having a vehicle. The resolution was tabled each time, citing the need to further research and discuss the possible legal questions. This included a question of liability to the city if the investigator is in an accident in the vehicle going to or from work.

“One of my big reasons for this is the police department has made a lot of changes in the last couple months,” said councilman John “Jack” Hill, who sits on the city police commission. “We have a new acting chief, and he requested this. I think to show him some support, we should back him and grant him this.”

Councilwoman Janet Koch, who voted down the resolution, said she agrees with the city attorney’s opinion of the insurance coverage’s liability issue to the city.

Councilman Paul Myers said he understands the liability issue, but he supports the resolution after serving in the city’s police department for many years, including several as an investigator.

“Having to come down here and pick up all my stuff, it would have been nice to just be able to take the car to the scene with everything in it,” he said.

Councilman Barry Smith said he sees both sides of the issue and went back and forth on his decision after talking with relatives about the insurance liability aspect. He said he also watched the police investigator work recently and was impressed with the investigator’s professionalism and quick response.

Lane Hoag, a member of the police commission, said if the investigator is on-call, then they would be on the clock if called out and should be using a city vehicle in that case.

IN OTHER BUSINESS, the council approved the city-wide clean-up to be held the week of July 12 with Beichner Waste Services as the low bidder.

Those who wish to participate in the clean-up must pay $40 to the city prior to the clean-up. All garbage including televisions and items containing freon, such as refrigerators, will be accepted under the one fee.

The council also authorized submitting a 2020 Consolidation Funding Application under the EFC/DEC Engineering Planning Grant Program for $30,000 for the city of Salamanca Inflow and Infiltration Evaluation.

The grant would help pay for a study of the storm drainage system. Grant administrator Sandi Brundage said the city applied for the grant previously and was rejected. She said the city was encouraged to apply again after planning to meet with the DEC Monday.

It was noted the matching funds for $6,000 would be $3,000 from the Board of Public Utilities and $3,000 from the Department of Public Works.

(Contact editor/reporter Kellen Quigley at kquigley@oleantimesherald.com.)

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