YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Members of the Youngstown City Safety Committee said they want to explore the idea of having reserve or auxiliary police officers.

Committee Chairwoman Anita Davis, D-6th Ward, a former city police officer said she wished that the provision that restricts their use had been negotiated a bit more in the recent contract council ratified for the members of the department’s patrol officers union.

Davis said reserve or auxiliary officers could benefit the citizens by providing traffic control at events like parades, man police substations or attend block watch meetings.

That, in turn, could free up officers to perform their regular duties and keep them on the street, Davis said. She said she wants to discuss the idea more in the coming year.

When asked why she didn’t press more for the provision to be revised or eliminated during negotiations, Davis said council does not negotiate.

Committee member Jimmy Hughes, D-2nd Wars, said he also supports adding additional officers who he termed “less than part-time.”

Hughes, a former city police chief, also said he wishes the provision had been negotiated or taken out of the contract. Hughes also agreed that those officers could free up patrol officers to stay on their beats.

“All I’m saying is we should do more of that,” Hughes said.

According to the contract, the city can hire or utilize five part-time or auxiliary officers if the department reaches 107 officers in the patrol division. After that number is reached, an additional five part-time officers can be added for every five full-time officers added to the patrol division.

If the city is forced to lay people off or reduce strength, the part-time officers will be let go first under the terms of the contract.

Hughes and Davis both stressed after the meeting that they still want to add and keep full-time officers. They only want part-timers to augment the full-time ranks.

Committee member Basia Adamczak, D-7th Ward, asked if residents would have wanted the contract to be approved if they had known of the provision. The contract, approved last week, calls for raises for new hires in an effort to bolster recruiting. The department is short staffed because of the previous low starting salary of about $16 an hour. The new wages are about $21 an hour for starting officers.

Staff Inspector Lt. Brian Butler said investigators are doing background checks on 16 potential new hires who passed the last civil service exam and hope to have many, if not all of them, hired as soon as possible.

Butler said the new contract has already paid off. One candidate was going to go to another department but when he was reminded of Youngstown’s new starting salary, he changed his mind, Butler said.