Written by Larry Limpf
February 20, 2009
A former member of Walbridge Village Council is asking village officials to consider contracting with Lake Township for police coverage instead of maintaining a village department.
Joann Schiavone Wednesday presented information compiled by Mark Hummer, the township police chief, to village council showing the township could provide 24-hour police service for the village at a cost of approximately $350,000 a year.
According to village figures, the police department budget for 2007 was $449,746. With mayor’s court expenses included the budget was $466,914. The 2008 department budget was $456,730 with mayor’s court; $426,117 without.
Donald Hendren submitted his resignation as village police chief earlier this month and officer Jason Harden has been named acting chief of the department, which has a staff of four full-time and four part-time officers.
Village Mayor Dan Wilczynski, who didn’t attend the council meeting, has said he and council’s safety committee plan a review of the entire department and will first look to fill the chief’s post from within the department. The mayor said he’s determined to keep staffing at a level to maintain 24-hour patrol coverage for the village.
Mrs. Schiavone said the $100,000 or so annual cost savings for contracting with the township is just one advantage for residents of the village. According to Chief Hummer’s information, the average full-time township officer has 12.3 years of experience and the department has a full-time detective bureau and a full-time employee managing the records section.
“I’m not doing this to degrade anyone,” she said Thursday morning. “I’m doing it to show residents there is another option.”
For years, including when she was on council, the village department has seen officers leave for other departments after gaining experience in Walbridge, she said, adding the neighboring Village of Millbury contracts with Lake Township for police coverage.
Walbridge residents wouldn’t be assessed on their property taxes for contracting with the township as residents in the unincorporated areas of the township are, she said.
Chief Hummer’s information says officers assigned to the village could, with the permission of Walbridge officials, use the existing station in the village for reports and as a “visible presence in the village.”
“The officers would still cite traffic offenses into mayor’s court utilizing Walbridge Municipal Code,’ his memo says. “ On cases that involve the potential for jail time, the officers would cite under state code to eliminate the possibility of large fees being incurred by the village. The officers would use a standardized records management system that would streamline reporting and public information requests.”
Chief Hummer said the township plans to have in-car computers by next month and a computer assisted dispatch service fully-operational by the end of the year.
“This will allow the officers to complete all reporting while staying visible in our patrol areas,” he said. “This also allows for `silent dispatch” and car-to-car and dispatch-to-car silent messaging for all on-line users. This includes Lake Twp., Perrysburg Twp., Rossford, and Perrysburg as well as several Lucas County agencies.”
The township department also has a school resource officer, who could be used at Walbridge Elementary School, and plans to add a second K-9 unit for narcotics detection, tracking, building searches, and other services.
Chief Hummer said his department has a “great working relationship” with Walbridge.
“We have an open dialogue and work together on a regular basis,” he said. “I am sure that will continue no matter the decision in this issue.”
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