NILES, Ohio (WYTV) – It was a full house for a Niles City Council meeting on Wednesday evening, which at times got heated during talks of layoffs in the city.
Niles was expected to bring back one laid-off police officer after threats were reportedly made online, but Council tabled that decision until Thursday.
First News print partners at The Tribune Chronicle reported several city officials are concerned after a man came to the building several times and posted what could be construed as threatening messages on social media.
Mark Holmes, chief of maintenance at the Niles Parks and Recreation Department, said there are times he fears for his life in regard to the alleged threats.
“He puts gun emojis on there. He puts baseball bat emojis on there. He says ‘troubles are going to happen for people,'” Holmes said.
The laid-off officer could be back on the city’s payroll by Thursday as a security officer, specifically patrolling the City Administration Building. But some in attendance at the meeting said they want that officer on the street, especially after lay-offs at the police department earlier this year due to budget concerns.
“We’re looking at a police officer to babysit 12 or 15 people in a building,” one person at the meeting said.
“If we bring one back, we need him on the street; we really do. That is where we need him to be,” said James Sheely, a Niles resident.
Some criticized Mayor Tom Scarnecchia’s administration, saying that they were promised that the officers would be rehired once voters approved a half-percent income tax increase, which will go into effect in July. Many hoped that the tax increase’s passage would restore some of the police offers and firefighters who were laid off in January.
Scarnecchia said those employees were laid off due to the previous administration’s plan but declined to comment further.
On Wednesday, city leaders also discussed the costs to add cameras and keypads at the side entrances of the Administrative Building.