WARREN - A city councilman is pushing for the administration to restart the police department's narcotics unit in light of escalating violent crimes happening in the city.
Councilman Edward Colbert III, D-7th Ward, the council's former police and fire committee chairman, has recommended that the city use the money it will gain from the retirement of three to four senior level police officers to hire three officers and use them to form a new narcotics unit.
"I see limited benefits in hiring one more cop per shift," Colbert said. ''We cannot continue to do the same things over and over and wonder why we get the same results.
"I believe that if we want to see a tangible difference, we should reinstate our narcotics unit."
Colbert said the city's previous narcotics unit was comprised of three officers and a lieutenant.
Mayor William ''Doug'' Franklin agreed that the city would reap a lot of benefits from having a narcotics unit, but adds the narcotics unit was disbanded because of limited personnel.
"We have to get officers back on the payroll," Franklin said. "My goal is to get more officers on the street, so with these retirements, we can begin to have that conversation."
However, Franklin said, the city cannot wait to hire new officers to combat the increase crime.
"We have to use all of the law enforcement that are available to us today," he said. "We are working to combine our resources with other local and regional law enforcement agencies."
Franklin, who was formerly the city's safety-service director, said working with other police departments and other law enforcement agencies provides more flexibility.
"These kinds of task forces don't have regional boundaries, so when those committing crimes move outside of Warren, they still can be arrested," he continued.
In the meantime, Franklin said any new officers will be placed on the street.
"They will not be sitting in offices," he said.
Councilman Vincent Flask, D-5th Ward, the current police and fire committee chairman, said his job is to make sure the administration will have the money it needs to make new hires.
"We're doing that," Flask said. "It is up to the administration to determine how the officers will be used."