By Linda Dillman
An additional police officer will patrol Canal Winchester next year.
Canal Winchester City Council approved a contract amendment to authorize hiring another Fairfield County Sheriff’s deputy. The action brings the city police force to 11 officers. The entire Fairfield County Sheriff’s contract is up for renewal in 2018.
In addition to 24-hour shifts of two deputies, seven days a week, the sheriff’s department will provide a third deputy to exclusively patrol the city eight hours a day, five days a week. It will cost the city an additional $90,000.
A study indicated the need for more officers. Council, under the advice of Finance Director Amanda Jackson, decided to add one deputy while discussing the potential for additional deputies next year.
During a recent committee of the whole meeting, council discussed 2018 appropriations, including an $80,000 contingency line item for additional law enforcement.
“It would be an addition to our existing police service line item,” said Councilman Bruce Jarvis. “However, it (police line item) remains just a contingency until negotiations can be completed with Madison Township officials regarding some augmentation of police services in exchange for monies already collected by the township.”
In addition to the $1.12 million the city is allocating for operating expenses and capital outlay for police protection for 2018, Canal Winchester residents are taxed more than half a million dollars for service provided by the Madison Township police.
Jarvis said, as a member of the township, the city is obligated to pay the township a portion toward police service.
“Other than emergency situations, we do not currently receive routine police services in return,” said Jarvis. “The mayor has opened a dialogue with township officials about receiving some services from the township police in the form of things like traffic control or business checks to provide some degree of relief for the city’s contracted police force. By sharing some tasks as a team, it is hoped this would carry the same benefit as adding officers with no additional cost to Canal Winchester.”
Mayor Mike Ebert feels the city will know by the first of the year whether or not negotiations with the township are moving in Canal Winchester’s direction. If not, the contingency plan could provide approximately 2,000 hours of special duty police labor to be used at the mayor’s discretion during times of extra need. This is in addition to the one permanent full-time officer added for 2018.
“Up until the recent addition of one officer starting in 2018, the city has had a steady level of police staffing since 1998 or so. Since then, we became a city, population rose, and criminal activity increased,” said Jarvis. “Public perception is that we need more protection and it was the consensus of council that we needed to add one to two additional police personnel or find some relief for our current force for certain tasks. The cost and related issues of hiring two more full-time officers, coupled with the budget cycle, suggested we should consider augmentation through special duty officers for now as we continue to monitor the need for permanent/full-time additions.”
Currently, there is no provision for the $80,000 line item in the draft budget. Jarvis said if talks with the township do not result in a service arrangement, council, the mayor and staff will need to work together to identify places in the 2018 budget for potential trade-offs so it can be funded.