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Latrobe council agrees to hire resource officer

| Tuesday, March 25, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

With the addition of a school resource officer, officials hope improved cooperation between the city of Latrobe and the Greater Latrobe school district can help solve crimes such as the Playland arson in Legion-Keener Park.

During Monday's council meeting, city manager Alex Graziani said having a police officer dedicated to the five school buildings when classes are in session can improve students' attitudes toward police officers because of visibility, in addition to the value of an extra officer serving the city the rest of the year.

The school resource officer's salary would be funded by a grant through Greater Latrobe and the Department of Education with $90,000 contributed over two years, which will cover the city's direct costs, Graziani said.

Solicitor Jim Kelly said the agreement can be revisited if the district or the city feels it is not working.

The Fraternal Order of Police has prepared language to include the officer, fully trained with Latrobe police, in the collective bargaining agreement, Graziani said.

Resident Jim Miller asked council during the meeting how the city plans to account for the extra officer's retirement and medical benefits, added annual costs for the city's budget.

Police Chief Jim Bumar said as the resource officer's salary increases over time, other officers may retire to account for those costs.

Miller questioned why the officer should be hired by the city instead of the school district.

Graziani said it would be difficult for a district the size of Greater Latrobe to begin and train an entirely new police or safety program. The cooperative nature of this program would aid other city police work.

“This officer, from a reconnaissance standpoint, would be able to know a lot of what's going on,” he said. “It creates a situation for the school district and the city that something we can do on our own, we can do better together.”

In other business, council discussed advertising for a new roll-off dump truck because the current vehicle, a 2000 Mac truck, has 315,000 miles logged and has been out of service with a cracked frame for the second time within the last year, Graziani said.

The city could finance the truck through a loan or lease for the estimated cost of about $165,000.

About $25,000 was allotted in this year's budget for an annual payment for the truck, he said.

Council could vote on both items during its next meeting April 14.

Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or sfederoff@tribweb.com.

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