Thursday, July 20, 2000

Deerfield may expand coverage from sheriff

By Kevin Aldridge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        DEERFIELD TOWNSHIP — Trustees are considering a deal with Warren County commissioners that would bring more sheriff's officers to Deerfield Township, a move that could torpedo the board's plan to create a separate police force for the township.

        Dan Theno, administrator of economic development and community relations, said Wednesday that township trustees have agreed in principle to a proposal that would beef up law enforcement in Deerfield without raising taxes for residents. Township officials recently met with county commissioners and the sheriff to discuss the proposal.

        “One of our concerns is that we need more law enforcement personnel in the fastest-growing community in Warren County,” said Trustee Tom Raga. “If the county would supply more personnel at no cost to the township, one of our major concerns would be addressed.”

        Deerfield Township now 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, equipment main tenance and base of operations; the sheriff's office provides $247,000 in management, clerical services and training.

        Commissioners have offered to hire three more deputies to work 15 shifts per week at no additional expense to the township.

        Though the deputies would be based out of Deerfield Township, they would not serve that area exclusively, commissioners said.

        “They are what we would consider "floaters,'” said Commissioner Pat South, “meaning they would be the first to be pulled to respond to calls for backup in other parts of the county.”

        Mrs. South said commissioners see the proposal as a way to augment Deerfield Township's police force, as well as meet their own policing needs — which is almost a complete change of heart from a year ago. Last year, commissioners denied the township's request for more officers because of budget constraints.

        “There were 20,000 police calls in the county last year, and 8,000 of them were in Deerfield,” Mrs. South said. “I think that merits consideration for at least some additional manpower.”

        With the county's offer now on the table, many in this township of 22,000 are left wondering whether trustees, at least for now, will abandon their investigation into forming an independent police department.

        “Not necessarily,” Mr. Theno said. “But it certainly makes it much more palatable to stay with the sheriff.”


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