NEW CASTLE Mayor proposes drug task force
Police are also increasing traffic stops.
By LAURE CIOFFI
VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- Mayor Wayne Alexander has declared war on crime and says he's seeing results in his first month in office.
Alexander announced Thursday the city is starting its own drug task force. It will work in addition to the Lawrence County Drug Task Force operated through the county district attorney's office, he said.
"If we have a problem [with drugs], we can go into a house. I want my own team. That's going to be a priority in my administration," he said.
District Attorney Matthew Mangino said this morning he is not aware of Alexander's plans to start another drug task force. He would not comment on the plans.
Lawrence County's drug task force started six years ago and includes officers from most of the police departments in the county. They have multijurisdictional powers as part of the group. Mangino said most of the task-force arrests have been in New Castle.
Alexander said he's also working harder to pursue drug forfeiture laws to bring more money to the city. He noted the city impounded a sport utility vehicle more than year ago in a drug arrest, and he hopes to speed up the forfeiture process on it. Alexander estimates the car could be worth over $20,000.
"We will use the money for our war on drugs," he said. The city would get half of the profit, and the other half would go to the district attorney's office.
Alexander hopes to have a new police chief in place by Feb. 9. A search committee is meeting next week to go over applications. So far, three people have applied, he said.
Until then, Alexander said he has asked acting Police Chief John Kindel to step up traffic stops, which he hopes will result in arrests on other charges.
On Thursday, police found a stolen car after making a stop on Highland Avenue near Sheridan Avenue, he said.
Police reported that Octavious Lamont Clark, 20, of Oakland Avenue, Sharon, Pa., was arrested and charged with receiving stolen property, aggravated assault, simple assault, resisting arrest, harassment, driving while under suspension and failing to follow traffic control signals.
Police said the black 2002 Ford Focus went through a traffic light and was pulled over. Police then found it had been stolen Monday from Mahoningtown.
Officer Fred Buswell, 27, was injured when Clark tried to resist arrest, according to police reports.