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Published: Wednesday, 12/10/2008

Sylvania considers joint police special unit

BY ANGIE SCHMITT
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The city of Sylvania is contemplating a partnership with Sylvania Township's police department to provide specialized response to high-risk situations.

Under consideration by City Council is legislation that would form a joint Sylvania Metro Special Response Team - the equivalent of a SWAT team - for both municipalities.

In the past, the city and township each operated distinct special response teams. The units would deploy teams of specially trained officers in potentially dangerous situations such as drug arrests, domestic violence incidents, and other situations that might pose a threat to officers' safety.

The partnership would make more specially trained officers available in a crisis situation, Sylvania Police Chief Gerald Sobb said.

"Rather than have two small teams that are very restricted - and that's if everyone's in town and can show up. You need X number of people to do some-thing effectively and safely," Chief Sobb said.

The city and township have been combining their special response teams in high-risk arrests for one year under a mutual-aid agreement. Approval by City Council would make the arrangement a permanent part of the city's policy. The agreement is under review by Sylvania's safety committee. It has received approval from the Sylvania Township trustees.

Under the agreement, each entity would be responsible for compensating and insuring its own employees, no matter where the incident occurs in the city or township.

Sylvania Township Police Chief Robert Metzger said working together has been good for both forces.

"It's been a real benefit because both departments get to know how the other operates," he said.

The partnership will offer the two communities some economic benefits as well.

"It's going to be, in the long run, cheaper," Chief Sobb said. "SWAT teams need a lot of expensive equipment. That way you have two teams that share the costs together."

The arrangement also reduces the number of officers who need to receive costly special training, Chief Metzger said. At one point, all the township officers were trained for the special duty, he said. Now, only eight need that instruction, he said.

Special response teams are employed with varying constancy, Chief Sobb said. They might respond to five incidents in one year, or none at all.

The teams are prepared for the worst: large-scale crises, such as a terrorist attack, or a Columbine-type school attack. Sylvania's special response team, for example, was called to provide assistance during a riot in North Toledo in 2005.

Also at last week's City Council meeting, councilmen authorized an agreement with an online auction service to sell seized assets.

City Council voted 7-0 to contract with GovDeals, an Alabama-based auction service.

The company will provide software and applications to list items seized in the city of Sylvania, but will not be a party to the sales. It will charge a fee of 7.5 percent for the first $100,000; 5.5 percent from $100,000 to $500,000, and 3.5 percent for purchases over $500,000.



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