STEUBENVILLE - The president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 1 said the city is facing "a long, hot summer" fraught with danger this year and called on city officials to re-evaluate police staffing levels.
"In past years the Steubenville police department was staffed with 50 police officers and four dispatchers. Through layoffs and attrition, the department is now operating with 38 officers and three dispatchers, a 30 percent decrease in manpower. Violent crimes are at an all-time high, and the FOP feels this is a direct effect of the decrease in manpower," FOP President Jim Marquis said Monday.
Marquis said four people have been hit by gunfire in the city in the past week. He also cited a running gun battle Saturday afternoon that saw an 18-year old city man rob a woman at gunpoint and then exchange gunfire with two responding police officers.
"The city of Steubenville is plagued with out-of-town, gun-carrying drug dealers and gang members who take full advantage of the limited police on the city streets," said Marquis. "It's time to re-evaluate the necessity of city job positions before we are mourning the loss of one of our own or an innocent child playing near his house ... killed by a stray bullet fired between two gang-banging drug dealers."