Arnold must cut police force

| Wednesday, July 30, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Arnold is broke and another property tax increase may start a revolution. At 43.5 mills, we already have the highest tax rate in the Valley.

Things aren't going to change until we get serious about reducing our biggest expense, the police department. Arnold can no longer support its department at its current size.

Our choices are limited:

• reduce the department's size

• combine forces with another neighboring town or two

• hire part-time officers

• disband our department and let the state police provide security.

I wonder why the city council hired a replacement officer for the one who left. This was an opportunity to cut costs.

It appears our neighboring cities have no interest in combining departments. The state made Arnold and New Kensington combine school systems to cut costs — why can't the same occur for police departments?

In 1940, the Arnold police department was half its current size and its fleet was one police car and a motorcycle with sidecar. Uniformed officers often walked the beat. We didn't have the drug and other crime problems of today and judges sent criminals to jail instead of giving them probation or house arrest.

I also have a few words about nepotism. In the last 10 years, former Arnold Mayor John Campbell promoted City Clerk Oscar Doutt's brother, Joe, to police chief. When Joe Doutt retired, Oscar's son, Eric, was promoted to chief. John Pallone, who lost his re-election as a state representative, got hired as New Kensington-Arnold superintendent; his brother, Bob, is president of the school board. Now Arnold Councilwoman Karen Peconi's son, Wesley Biricocchi, is hired as a city police officer. Maybe all of these hirings are not nepotism. However, they sure give the appearance of nepotism.

Rudy Gagliardi


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