By Linda Dillman
Canal Winchester residents have long asked what bang they are getting for their tax bucks in police protection from Madison Township. That question is finally being answered in a formal manner.
“Thanks to tracking time in Canal Winchester as well as calls for service, Chief (Gary) York was able to show that Madison Township officers spent 47.2 hours in Canal Winchester in January of 2021 and 134.9 hours in January of 2022,” said Madison Township Trustee Chairman Michele Reynolds. “This increase sets the pace for Canal Winchester to have a much more significant presence of Madison Township officers in the coming year.”
In late 2017, the city requested a stronger township presence not only because of the hundreds of thousands in tax dollars paid to the Madison Township Police Department, but also because of increases in business traffic and activity.
The township was already patrolling the city, but officer time was not tracked, statistics collected were based on tickets and dispatched calls, there was a problem with dispatch communication—which has since been worked out—and unanswered questions regarding violations routed to the city’s mayor’s court instead of Franklin County.
“This has been an ongoing issue with police presence in Canal Winchester,” said Reynolds. “Some of the challenges were communication related. That has since been resolved. They have a stake in the game to get service from the township.”
Canal Winchester contracts with Fairfield County for initial police coverage. A difference in radio systems between Franklin and Fairfield counties previously required a township officer to carry a second radio in order to communicate with Fairfield County.
Prior to the use of a second radio and before the county communications upgrade, township officers in Canal Winchester would not be aware of criminal activity taking place and therefore unable to assist unless in a mutual aid situation.
According to Madison Township officials, a 2021 communications update provided a change in channels and talk groups that allow for better communication between Fairfield County and Franklin County law enforcement agencies.
In discussions that included the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office and the township, Canal Winchester representatives indicated the city’s preference in having Madison Township officers spend time patrolling the city throughout all shifts when possible, rather than having one township officer assigned to a specific shift.
In addition, Reynolds said the township plans to hire four additional officers and create another command position in 2022.
Madison Township and city representatives will continue to review patrol time provided by township law enforcement in Canal Winchester.