Wednesday, April 26, 2000
Public input on police lacking
Deerfield may form own force
By Kevin Aldridge
The Cincinnati Enquirer
DEERFIELD TOWNSHIP Township leaders aren't quite sure what to make of sparse turnouts at two public hearings last Saturday aimed at gathering resident comments on forming a police department.
It could mean that our residents are entrusting us to do the right thing. Or it could be total apathy, said Deerfield Township Fire Chief William Kramer, who is leading the police effort.
The hearings, held at Deerfield Township Park on Irwin Simpson Road and the township administration building on Townsley Road, drew barely more than a dozen participants. However, those who attended represented both supporters and detractors of a proposed township owned and operated police force.
Supporters of the initiative say a police force would give the township added identity, provide residents with better service, and give township officials more control over law enforcement issues.
Opponents, however, expressed concerns about increased taxes that could result.
Initially, my philosophy was if it ain't broke, don't fix it, said Roy Hildebrand, a Loveland Park resident. But after hearing (township officials) explain their reasons for pursuing the study, I'm comfortable with their decision whichever way they go.
Deerfield officials are examining four alternatives the township could pursue for police services:
„Maintaining the current contract with the Warren County Sheriff's Office.
„Improving the relationship with the county sheriff by strengthening communications.
„Forming a township police department while maintaining limited services from the sheriff's office.
„Forming a township police department while relying on the sheriff only for services such as record-keeping and a jail.
The township currently pays $926,000 a year for 16 deputies under a contract with the sheriff. The cost is paid through a police levy that residents have been renewing since the late 1970s. It generates about $1.2 million a year.
Jim Campbell, an Indianapolis police consultant recently hired by the township, is expected to present findings from a one-month feasibility study to trustees on May 16. Chief Kramer said the report will show that Deerfield's police levy could pay for the same number of personnel provided by the sheriff, plus supervisory positions, if the township decided to venture out on its own.
Trustees, however, remained tight-lipped about what the township might ultimately do.
I think everyone recognizes that this is a serious, serious decision, said Trustees President Bill Morand. I think, as trustees, our approach needs to be slow, cautious and methodical so that we don't make a decision now in haste that we would regret later on.
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