By Linda Dillman, Staff Writer
Madison Township Police Chief Gary York and Madison Township Administrator Susan Brobst helped clear the air at the Oct. 21 Canal Winchester City Council meeting regarding the status of services provided by township law enforcement.
At the invitation of council and in association with a previous discussion regarding a bigger bang for taxpayer’s bucks, York—who became chief in Feb. 2018—said he’s told his officers to have greater visibility throughout Canal Winchester.
The city contracts with the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office for primary service, with a sub-station housed in the basement of Town Hall. However, Fairfield County and Franklin County (which dispatches the township) are on different systems, thus creating communication issues.
“We don’t control the formatting of Franklin County,” said York. “My vision is for our officers to carry an extra radio to monitor Fairfield County.”
According to a Fairfield County deputy attending the evening meeting, there is now a memorandum of understanding in regard to radio communication between the two counties.
“I need to work with Franklin County EMA (Emergency Management Agency),” said York. “They’re aware of the communications gap we have here.”
While Madison Township has always had authority to issue citations in Canal Winchester, those tickets go to Franklin County. The city and the township are now working on an agreement changing the situation where township citations go through the Canal Winchester mayor’s court process.
“It’s going to take some time,” said Brobst. “There is no language drafted because neither side has any official language. Our assumption was the county prosecutor was working on this.”
Brobst said they discovered the prosecutor was not working on any documentation. The township and city must first come to the county with agreements and asked the county to draft official language sealing the agreement.
“We just need something official to have an actual ordinance on your part and then a resolution on our part. The township has to work through the county prosecutor. You have to work through Gene (Hollins, city law director),” said Brobst.
Hollins said the main purpose of the agreement between the city and township, which does not address the radio issue, is for officers to write charges under city code in order to go to mayor’s court.
“The amount (of revenue) is minimal,” said Hollins, “but it allows us to have control and a little more say about what happens with the charges.”
Brobst said there are “very, very” few townships in Ohio that have two cities within their boundaries and nothing similar within Franklin County. Madison Township covers both Canal Winchester and Groveport.
York said, while a similar situation exists in Groveport—which operates its own police department—there is no formalized agreement between the two entities, but the process works “seamlessly.” He called the Canal Winchester situation unique, but felt there is an easy fix.
“If we write a citation here, why shouldn’t it be heard here in mayor’s court,” said York, whose department operates on a budget of approximately $3.4 million. “We have to sit down and talk about how to make it work in Canal Winchester. At the end of the day, we’re here to provide safety and it doesn’t matter what the color is of the uniform.”
Hollins said he could have a resolution ready for consideration in time for a November council meeting.