WARREN — The Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office is set to get 15 new police vehicles after county commissioners on Wednesday approved the $754,606 purchase using American Rescue Plan Act funds.
The sheriff’s office will get 14 Ford Explorer police packages with equipment at $50,954 per vehicle and one 2022 Ford Explorer unmarked package for $41,250 from Statewide Ford Lincoln in Van Wert.
Maj. Tony Villanueva with the sheriff’s office said the new vehicles will replace some that have high mileage or are at the end of their lives, and also will allow some deputies who staff buildings throughout the county to have vehicles. Those deputies likely will get the older, higher-mileage vehicles that still are in working order, which can be parked outside the buildings they staff for greater visibility, he said.
“But the major thing is that we are getting newer and safer vehicles for our deputies,” Villanueva said.
The vehicles will include compact cameras, jet printers, mobile data terminals, computers and radios, as well as emergency flare kits, first aid kits, wool fire blankets, fire extinguishers and jumper cables.
Commissioners Frank Fuda and Mauro Cantalamessa voted to approve the purchase. Commissioner Niki Frenchko voted against it, saying there had not been public discussion of the ARP fund spending and there was no overall budget for the funds.
Cantalamessa said purchasing the vehicles had been discussed at several earlier meetings.
The purchase was requested earlier this year and was tabled by commissioners while they sought a legal opinion on whether ARP funds could be used. Wednesday, commissioners also approved a resolution by the same 2-to-1 vote that affirmed ARP funds can be used.
“This was a great team effort by the Trumbull County commissioners and our legal team,” Villanueva said.
Also at Wednesday’s meeting, Jeff Raines, a wildlife biologist with the U.S Department of Wildlife, asked commissioners for permission to place raccoon traps on county property for a rabies vaccinate-release program.
The U.S. Department of Wildlife is trapping raccoons in Trumbull County in an area from downtown Warren east to near Vienna and from Niles north to the campground area at Mosquito Creek Lake.
Raines said eastern Ohio is home to a large raccoon population and last year, U.S. Wildlife identified three raccoons carrying rabies in Trumbull County, including one in Warren that bit a person and another that was found about 3 miles south of the Mosquito Lake Dog Park.
Fuda and Cantalamessa expressed concern the county would be liable if anyone is injured by a trap on county land, although Raines said the county would sign a document that absolves it, should something happen.
Fuda and Cantalamessa asked Raines to send them additional information so they could consult with the prosecutor’s office.
Raines said traps would be raccoon-sized and placed in safe areas, taking into consideration animal welfare and human safety. Because it is illegal to relocate raccoons in Ohio, raccoons are vaccinated where they are trapped and then released in the same spot, he said.