(Posted April 27, 2023)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
The London Police Department hopes to secure federal funding to help build a new public safety facility.
The city of London tried twice in 2022 to pass a local tax levy that included a request for funding for a new police department. Those attempts failed. Now, city officials are waiting to see if they will receive federal funding for the project.
The office of Ohio Rep. Mike Carey (District 15) submitted a funding request on behalf of the city to the appropriations committee. The project is estimated to cost $12 million. Federal funding, if granted, would cover at least 55 percent of the cost with the city covering the rest.
London’s police department project is one of 15 projects Carey’s office submitted for consideration this fiscal year for District 15. An announcement on which projects received funding is expected late this year.
“Carey’s office was aware of our facility and the extreme needs here. They thought it was a viable project to submit,” said London Police Chief Glenn Nicol.
A professional needs assessment conducted in 2021 found the current police department to be very inadequate. Located at 10 E. First St., the facility’s offices and garage space are housed in a total of 6,000 square feet. The assessment stated that the department needs at least 18,000 square feet to adequately meet the safety and service needs of the staff, the people they serve, and the community as a whole. If the project were to move forward, the new facility would be built on Walnut Street.
Nicol had been considering renovation of the current building but decided to put that possibility on hold until the federal community project funding announcement is made.
“Renovation would only fix about 10 percent of our troubles and wouldn’t touch the major issues. It would just be a Bandaid,” he said.
License plate readers
At the start of last week, seven license plate readers went live at fixed spots around London. The devices read license plates and alert the police department of any matches in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), a database of criminal justice information on stolen property, missing persons, wanted persons, and the like.
“When there’s a hit, the device takes a picture and sends out an alert. We will know what the car looks like and what street it was on at what time,” Nicol said. “It’s going to be a valuable tool, and it’s pretty exciting that we can get that here in London.”
The police department received a $32,100 grant through the National Policing Institute’s rural violent crime reduction initiative. The grant covered the cost of six of the license plate readers. The department used money from its budget to purchase a seventh reader.
The grant covers the use of the readers for two years. At the end of those two years, the police department will determine if they can sustain them into the future.