By Amanda Ensinger
Police protection continues to be an issue in a local township and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office is saying it is critical for the township to have its own police protection.
At a recent Franklin Township meeting, the board discussed police protection and the impact the recent levy failing could have on the community. Franklin County Sheriff Dallas Baldwin discussed these challenges.
“We have a great relationship with the township, and this is one of my favorite places to be,” Baldwin said. “I’m aware of staffing and cost issues and wanted to let you know it will take about one year before we see increased patrols in the county and there are several calls for service.”
Baldwin added that the recent policy levy passing was critical for the township to have additional police protection since the sheriff’s office is so strained.
While, Baldwin said the jail population was high before COVID, and then dropped down, data is showing the numbers are starting to climb again and with the projection of over one million additional people in the city of Columbus over the next 10 to 20 years.
“Crime will continue to spread out across the county,” he said. “While I love the township, our agency cannot take on the role of patrolling the township. It is cheaper to keep what we have right now.”
However, with the police levy failing for the third time, the sheriff’s office may have to increase their presence in the township.
Residents rejected the levy, with 53 percent of voters opposing the levy.
In the fall of 2021, the township asked taxpayers to approve a 7.1-mill timed police levy, which would have replaced an existing timed levy that is set to expire at the end of 2022, as well as added 3-mills to the levy. This levy failed.
In the spring of 2021, the police department asked for a 7.37-mill permanent levy, but voters rejected it.
As a result of the latest levy failing, Franklin Township Police Chief Byron Smith said there will be cuts to service and they worry the sheriff’s office won’t be able to offset the lack of coverage.
“Cuts will be imminent to our department unless we receive another funding source,” said Smith. “We can’t operate at our current capacity with the two smaller levies we have. However, it will be up to the board when that will occur.”
Smith said the current five-year timed levy doesn’t expire until December 2022, so the trustees may opt to keep all the township police officers until the funds are no longer available. Currently, the township has 10 full-time and three part-time officers.
The department is operating 24 hours a day when there is adequate staffing.
The department currently has two other permanent levies it collects from township taxpayers. Those two levies bring in approximately $700,000 a year for the department.