By Amanda Amsel
Franklin Township recently hired six part-time police officers. Because of that, the township will not move forward with a proposal by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.
The Franklin Township trustees approved hiring six part-time police officers to assist the department. According to Franklin Township trustee Don Cook, these officers will work when a full-time officer is sick or on vacation.
“Some weeks these officers may not work at all, as they were only hired as back up if someone is out,” Cook said. “Before we would just not have an officer on or would have to pay overtime, so these new officers ensure we will have two officers on the street no matter what.”
The new hires guarantee the township will have two officers on the street at all times. This guarantee made the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office feel comfortable enough to abandon its plans to present a proposal to take over service in the township.
“We are now having an open dialogue, which is in part due to the new Franklin Township Police Chief Byron Smith,” said Jim Gilbert, with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office. “As a result of this open dialogue and the new part-time officers, we have decided to currently not present a proposal to the township.”
According to Gilbert, the sheriff’s office and township will also start having monthly meetings where they will discuss staffing, logistical issues and crime trends.
“These meetings, as well as the additional staffing they have hired, will help the sheriff not have to respond to every run in the township,” Gilbert said. “We feel right now the township will be covered for spring and summer, which makes us feel more comfortable.”
Prior to hiring the part-time officers, the sheriff’s office assisted in protecting the township. This, according to Gilbert, put an unfair strain on the department, which was the reason they wanted to present a proposal to take over the department. However, Gilbert was quick to note if the staffing issues return in Franklin Township, the sheriff’s office is ready to present a proposal to take over service.
“If they have to lay more officers off and can’t cover shifts, then we are ready to provide them with an option to contract with us to have secured police protection,” he said.
According to Franklin Township Police Chief Byron Smith, the department will be asking for a levy to ensure they have adequate staffing in the years to come. If the levy were to fail, the department may have to do additional cuts.
“Right now we are going to wait and see what the voters decide in regards to the levy,” Gilbert said. “If the levy fails again, then the township leaders need to have a serious discussion with us regarding police coverage.”