By Amanda Amsel
The Franklin Township Police Department is losing another officer.
At a recent township board meeting, Franklin Township Police Chief Allan Wheeler asked the trustees to approve the retirement of officer Terry Taylor. A 20 plus veteran of the force, Taylor is retiring after being on disability for an extended period of time.
After the trustees unanimously approved the retirement, they went into an executive session where they discussed if the department could afford to rehire one of the recently laid off officers. Earlier in the year, the department laid off four officers, reducing the department to four officers and the police chief. If the position is not filled, there would be three officers and the chief.
“We have not made a decision on that yet,” said Franklin Township trustee Don Cook. “We have to wait until we have our budget hearing to determine if we can afford to rehire someone.”
This lack of certainty of what is going to happen to the township’s police department has made some officials uneasy.
“The trustees need to make a decision as to if we are going to continue to have a police department or contract out to the sheriff’s office,” Wheeler said. “I can tell you I am extremely concerned about the safety of residents in Franklin Township.”
In February, the four officers were laid off and the police department began operating one shift from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week. If an emergency occurs during a time when the police are off duty, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office responds. However, the office will only respond to non-emergency calls and will not actively patrol the township, citing lack of resources.
Officials said the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office said they responded to 231 calls in February, while the township’s police department responded to 128 calls. When asked if the township police have been able to function with the reduced hours and staff, Wheeler did not mince words.
“We can’t even be proactive right now, we are just going from call to call,” he said. “It really is eye opening how much the call volume has increased as a result of our lay offs.”
Wheeler also expressed his concerns about being able to keep up once it gets warmer outside.
“We are maintaining right now, but once that weather breaks, I think we are going to be really busy,” Wheeler said. “In the meantime some drastic decisions are going to have to be made.”
The trustees plan to announce if they will be rehiring any of the laid off officers in the next few weeks.
“All I can say is it doesn’t look good,” Wheeler said. “However, we will continue to try to help township residents the best we can.”