MOUNT GILEAD — Budget cuts to the Morrow County Sheriff’s Office have had far-reaching effects.
“We’re down to three dispatchers and we should have seven,” said Morrow County Sheriff Steve Brenneman. “We’re way down on road officers. My detectives have been pulled off the detective bureau and are working the roads. My office staff has been cut down to two and my administrative office had up to seven people working in here. We are scrimping and saving just to do the basic duties of the sheriff’s office.”
Brenneman said he is always having to deal with budget cuts, but the latest have been the toughest to deal with. Nonetheless, he said, he is striving to keep 24-hour coverage for the county. There have been reports there will be a time when there are no deputies on patrol in the county. Brenneman confirmed that report, but with a stipulation.
“There are times when we will not have 24-hour coverage out and about,” he said. “But we will have officers on call at all times.”
Brenneman said that in an ideal situation, he would like to have five deputies per shift for patrol duties and four or five officers for the detective bureau.
“I could easily keep that many busy,” he said.
With one exception, unlike Knox County, the Morrow County Sheriff’s Office does not have law enforcement service contracts with smaller communities
“We have a small one with Chesterville but they are only wanting coverage for eight hours a month,” Brenneman said. “That’s handled by special duty. Cardington and Mount Gilead have their own police forces. Edison has a volunteer force with a part-time chief and volunteer officers. Other than that, we cover other villages as part of our routine patrol.”
Community involvement programs will not be affected by recent budget cuts, he said, for the simple reason that there are none.
“We used to have DARE,” Brenneman explained. “But we quit that in 2006 because of budget cuts at that time.”
Despite the cutbacks, Brenneman wants to make sure people know his office was still providing 24/7 coverage of the county.
“We are going to be responding to emergency calls and crimes in progress where people are in danger of injury. It will just be on an on-call basis,” he explained. “My chief deputy lives in the south part of the county, as does a sergeant. They are on call in those areas. I live in the north part of the county, as does another sergeant, and we are on call there. And we will call people out as needed.”
Morrow County has a population of about 35,000.