CENTERBURG — The Knox County Sheriff’s Office’s presence in the village of Centerburg was overwhelmingly supported Tuesday night when village residents spoke out to discuss the pros and cons of continuing law enforcement coverage with the KCSO versus opening an independent police department.
Sheriff’s office to continue coverage in Centerburg August 21, 2009
Village concerned with law enforcement issues August 4, 2009
Centerburg looks at future funding July 7, 2009
Problems with communication between KCSO and village representatives, monthly deputy work logs and required furlough days have led some council members to question whether the village is getting its money’s worth.
The village contracts for three full-time deputies, each for 40 hours per week. According to village administrator Phil Lohmeyer, that equates to one day of 24-hour coverage and six days of 16-hour coverage over a week.
Resident Jackie Cordle told council it was important to look at the whole picture before making any decisions.
“We are talking about coverage here and there is such a thing as quantity and quality. I believe … we can’t do any better than what we are doing right now. We have three wonderful deputies,” Cordle said. “Had it not been for the presence of J.P. (Paul) and Jason (Stachler) when all hell broke loose at the school it would have been a riot. But the fact that they were there and looked as professional as they always look, and as they always act, they were a godsend to our school.”
Cordle also asked council to look at the county’s financial situation and question what it would do to the KCSO if it were to lose the village’s contract.
“We also know the county services are in bad shape. If the sheriff’s department loses its contract, it’s going to be even worse,” Cordle said. “We need quality and we need well-trained young men, and we have them now. I don’t think you will find anyone who’s better trained or better equipped to serve this village than the Knox County Sheriff’s deputies.”
One member in attendance asked how the county would accommodate the loss of the Centerburg contract and the three deputies assigned to the village.
“If we lose the Centerburg contract of three deputies, our budget the way it currently is and with the unanticipated cuts by the county commissioners for this year, we are being asked to cut 11 percent for the 2010 budget … I will have no choice but to lay off a minimum of five deputies if we lose this contract,” said Knox County Sheriff David Barber. He later explained that paying for unemployment benefits would require the layoff of additional manpower to cover the unbudgeted cost to his office.
Barber admitted there was a communication problem between the village and his office and took responsibility for some of the problems, but said communication between the two works both ways. Barber’s opinion of an independent police force in the village is that it is “a bad idea,” and the best thing the village can do is address issues council might have with deputies and their efforts to make sure the village gets what it wants from the deputies.
Tuesday’s meeting was designed to get the public’s point of view on law enforcement in the village before council made a decision whether to move forward or continue with the current contract.
Other residents questioned the financial backing of a police force and the cost to acquire quality officers for long-term positions, the need for a jail facility, insurance and equipment.
Following the 75-minute meeting, council decided to pass the information gained during the meeting over to the Safety Committee for its opinion before council made any motions regarding law enforcement.
During the regular council meeting, council:
•Tabled an ordinance on International Property Maintenance Code so council members had the opportunity to read code information.
•Amended a health insurance ordinance to accommodate for inaccurate costs provided to the village.
•Passed an emergency approval of the Ohio Water Development Authority loan application.
•Held a first reading to increase sewer rates.
•Accepted 2010 tax rates.
•Set an open house date of Sept. 30, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., for the retirement of village employee Robert Underwood.
•Set Trick or Treat times for Saturday, Oct. 31, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.