Saturday, Apr 21, 2018
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Communities try to find ways to have local patrols

Springfield Township is talking with its neighbors in Holland and Sylvania Township about the possibility of sending police to patrol Springfield Township.

Monclova Township has asked for proposals from Maumee, Waterville, Whitehouse, and Waterville Township.

All eight townships in Lucas County that don't have their own police departments are scrambling to find alternate - and less expensive - ways to have police patrols after county officials informed them they soon would be getting a bill if they wanted the Lucas County Sheriff's Office to continue the service.

"Pretty much everyone's in agreement that to just start our own police department is not going to be the most financially responsible decision because of all the start-up costs," Springfield Township Administrator Leslie Kohli said.

While trustees are looking at all their options, no decision has been made.

"We have not discounted the sheriff at this point," Ms. Kohli said. "I guess we'll see as time goes by and we get quotes from some other jurisdictions. The sheriff could still come back to us and say we'll negotiate a lesser price."

Springfield, which is the largest township in the county with 21,511 people, would be billed nearly $2.5 million a year under the sheriff's current proposal. Ms. Kohli said it pays nearly $500,000 a year for a contract with the sheriff's office that keeps one deputy in the township around the clock.

At a meeting of Lucas County township officials in Swanton Township last week, most trustees said their communities could not afford to pay for road patrols.

"We work on three levies: road and bridge, fire, and recreation," Joe Gray of Jerusalem Township said. "We don't want to lose the sheriff's patrols, but we can't afford the $346,000 price tag."

Swanton Township Trustee Jim Irmen said his community and the others had little discretionary income. He said his township had a sheriff's substation that was not used, leading him to wonder just "what services we are getting" in the way of regular patrols.

Still, others feared that if their townships are not covered by the sheriff's office, crime could become a problem.

Communities without sheriff's patrols next year could be the target of home invaders, Springfield Township Trustee Andy Glenn said.

After the meeting, Providence Township Trustee Lance Martin said citizens in his community had the same worry.

"They're concerned that they may be prime pickings for criminal endeavors," he explained.

Mr. Glenn urged his colleagues to contact State Sen. Mark Wagoner (R., Ottawa Hills) and State Rep. Barbara Sears (R., Sylvania). He held out the possibility that state law could be changed to require the sheriff to provide road patrols without charge.

"They're telling us we have to pay for what is basically a government service," Mr. Glenn said.

Monclova Township Trustee Gary Kuns supported this idea.

The second largest township with 6,767 people, Monclova would be billed $737,905 under the county's current proposal.

Alan Mikesell, economic development coordinator for Monclova, said the township is fortunate to have very little crime, but even residents who get their mailbox knocked off want to have an officer respond.

"I don't care how many police you have, you're going to have [problems like] that," he said. "The questions is, how much are you willing to pay to take care of that?"

The Lucas County Township Association plans to meet at 7 p.m. July 23 at the Springfield Township Hall to continue the discussion. Marilyn Yoder, president of the association, said Sheriff James Telb along with Commissioner Pete Gerken and county Administrator Mike Beazley have been invited to attend.

"It's a bit extreme right now, we think," Ms. Yoder said. "We'll have to go ahead and work on it."

Jerusalem Township Trustees Joseph Kiss, Jr., said his board would like to discuss the plan with county commissioners.

"I think it's sad, and I think it's wrong," Mr. Kiss said. "But I think everybody's in bad spots."

Increasing taxes in Jerusalem Township to pay $346,968 a year for the cost of county sheriff road patrols and detective investigations does not seem to be a viable option, Mr. Kiss said. Contracting with Oregon's police department instead of the county will cost money too, he said.

"I have no idea how in the world Jerusalem Township is going to be able to afford that extra bill," Mr. Kiss said.

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