The City of Erie Police Department will soon hire new officers. However, Erie City Council members are still working to reach an agreement on how many officers should be funded by American Rescue Plan (ARP) dollars.

Chelsea Swift was live in the control room after hearing from city council members on both sides of the argument.

ARP dollars will fund city police, however two city council members aren’t on board with the five year plan.

Earlier this month, city council reached an agreement to hire nine new police officers, funded by ARP dollars.

Back in December of 2021, city council voted seven to zero to approve the multimillion dollar safety plan.

Erie City Councilman Chuck Nelson, who took office after that vote in 2022, says there’s a long term cost of hiring new police officers after the five years of funding expires.

“Our population has declined, our revenue base has declined, and the comprehensive plan tells us to right-size for that. So to add 30 police in this amount of time is not financially responsible, and that’s really my whole point,” said Chuck Nelson, Erie City Councilman.

Councilman Nelson supports a resolution that would prevent the city from hiring additional officers later this year.

The president of the Erie Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) says additional officers would not require taxpayer dollars, even after the federal funding runs out.

“These officers and these units are in immediate need to the City of Erie for the safety and the health and well-being of our residents,” said Justin Stidham, president, Erie Fraternal Order of Police.

Nelson continues to say these additional officers are not necessary. However the FOP president says these additional officers will help with community-based programs.

Another city council member says she supports ARP dollars going towards hiring additional officers who strengthen community police relationships.

“We have an immediate need right now to understand what’s going on with gun violence, to help with mental health concerns, with domestic violence, and with expanding the Police Athletic League too. So it’s not all about policing, it’s about a different way of looking at policing,” said Liz Allen, president, Erie City Council.