Clarksburg Police officers soon will follow a national trend that could save lives.
City Council Thursday approved a recommendation by City Manager Tom Vidovich to appropriate up to $14,784 for the purchase of bullet-proof vests.
Once the new body armor arrives, it will become a standard part of officers' uniforms, Chief John Walker said.
"It will depend on what area the officer is in," Walker said. "Those in administration will be required to wear them at certain times. Investigators will have to sometimes, depending on what type of duty their on."
In the past, body armor was optional for officers, Walker said. The department will follow a trend that is becoming popular throughout the country with the new requirement.
The body armor is made of a new type of material that is lighter and more comfortable, Walker said.
"It's made so you can breathe a little easier," he said. "It's still hot in the summer, but it's worth the discomfort."
Walker is unsure when the vests will arrive, he said. Officers must first be fitted.
Prior to the action part of the agenda, council heard from Claudene Cross, who has been organizing an international dart tournament for Clarksburg for more than a year.
She informed council of a conflict with the organizers of the city's 10K race, which now is scheduled for the same weekend as the tournament. They both are set for the last weekend of July.
Cross said that she scheduled the dart tournament, which is expected to draw up to 400 people, at that time because the race was to be earlier. But race organizers rescheduled their event without informing council or her.
"I do not understand how the race can just run over top of us after we changed our plans," she said.
Cross asked council to take action to resolve the impasse, but none was taken. Before she left, Cross indicated the tournament might not now be able to come to Clarksburg. Council member Margaret Bailey said the episode makes the city look bad.
"I'm very embarrassed," she said.
In other action, council members voted to table a resolution authorizing a mutual aid agreement between the Clarksburg Fire Department and the Harrison County Bureau of Emergency Services and other fire departments in the county.
The last such agreement in the county was in effect in 1978, fire Chief Rick Scott told council. The agreement would not change the operations of the department, Scott said.
Council members indicated they were concerned about liability and other issues.
Members also authorized Vidovich to apply for a grant to help the police department enforce under age drinking laws. The grant, for $15,576, will be used to pay overtime to city police officers, and for video tapes, Walker said.
Under the grant, officers will conduct sting operations at businesses suspected of selling alcohol to those under age, he said.
Council also amended this year's budget to include a Spring Clean-up. The budget originally provided funds for just one clean-up day. The amendment provided up to $8,500 for the event, during which residents can have garbage hauled for free. No date for that clean-up is set.