By Amanda Amsel
Two laid off officers will be returning to the Franklin Township Police Department after the trustees found excess money in the department’s 2015 budget.
At a recent meeting, the trustees approved bringing back two laid off officers after discovering the department has only spent 42 percent of its budget for the year.
“We have been very frugal and really watched our p’s and q’s,” said John Fleshman, township trustee. “As a result, we are left with excess funds in our budget, which gives us plenty of money to hire back these officers temporarily.”
The officers will be hired back with the understanding that if the 3.92-mil permanent levy does pass, they will be laid off again.
“In my opinion, we need to use the money to have more officers on the streets and protect the taxpayers,” said Fleshman.
As a result of the layoffs earlier this year, Franklin Township has four officers, including the police chief. These officers work one shift, seven days a week. When the officers are not on duty, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office responds to emergency township calls; they do not respond to non-emergency calls or patrol the township.
Residents have complained at township board meetings about an increase in crime in their neighborhood as a result of the police not patrolling the township. Residents also have complained that if a non-emergency crime occurs, it can take days for the township police to respond.
“I don’t think that people understand that when the police are on duty, they literally go from call to call,” Fleshman said. “They have no time to patrol because they are responding to calls that came in while they were closed.”
The two returning officers will work from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. and will mostly concentrate on patrolling the township.
The township hopes that if the levy passes in the fall, it will be able to rehire the additional laid off officers and return the department to 11 officers. If passed, the permanent levy would cost taxpayers $135 a year per $100,000 home and would generate $585,000 a year for the police department.