Wednesday, June 28, 2000

Deerfield: We need more police

Sheriff's office says it lacks enough money

By Kevin Aldridge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        DEERFIELD TWP. — The big question in this fast-growing township is not whether Deerfield will have its own police department, but when.

        Township Trustee Larry Backus says at the rate Deerfield Township is growing, it's only a matter of time before a township-operated police force is in place.

        “Is there going to be a Deerfield Township police force? Absolutely,” Mr. Backus says. “We are simply growing too fast.

        “We have too much at stake in terms of our community security not to have a community police force. The only question is, when is the right time for that to happen.”

        Mr. Backus says that time could be next year or in five years. He says Warren County commissioners could determine how soon trustees start the ball rolling. Commissioners' reluctance to give Deerfield more deputies has a lot to do with their push for a community police force, Mr. Backus says.

        Last year, trustees asked commissioners to provide three additional deputies to help cover their busy corner of the county. But commissioners denied the request because of budget constraints.

        Deerfield Township pays $926,000 a year for 16 deputies under a contract with the Warren County Sheriff's Office. The cost is paid through a police levy that residents have been renewing since the late 1970s. The levy generates about $1.2 million a year.

        The contracted deputies serve Deerfield Township exclusively but are not township employees. The township pays for their uniforms, vehicles and base of operations; the sheriff's office provides $247,000 in management, clerical services and training.

        But trustees say commissioners have an obligation to provide police coverage beyond what Deerfield already contracts for. And as the largest political jurisdiction in the county, Deerfield accounts for the largest portion of the sheriff's budget.

        Last year, sheriff's deputies responded to 20,678 calls in Warren County. More than 40 percent (8,467) of the calls were in Deerfield Township.

        Col. Del Everett told trustees recently that the sheriff would like to provide more deputies for Deerfield Township, but “our hands are tied budgetarily.”

        “We are slim (staffed) as it is,” Col. Everett said. “Our budget is such that we can't afford to send anyone else down there.”

        “The trustees feel like the township is being taken advantage of,” says Doug Miller, legal counsel for the township. “It seems to me that (Deerfield) ought to get extra service, if we are the ones helping out the sheriff the most.”

        Mr. Backus adds: “As taxpayers, we are not getting what we should be getting from the county. The county can well afford to assist us.”

        Trustees say they hope to meet with commissioners in upcoming weeks to further discuss the issue.


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