Jerusalem Township’s police steering committee is preparing a questionnaire to get feedback from the public on what kind of police services they would like to have.
The committee, which consists of six residents, meets every couple of weeks to discuss options on providing police protection to the township.
“Policing is supposed to represent the population, and we want to know what they want,” said Ron Frederick, a member of the commission.
Voters last November rejected by over a two to one margin a 3.5-mill, one year police levy that would have raised revenue to pay the sheriff to patrol the township.
The township currently receives sheriff’s patrols at no charge from Lucas County. That will end this year. Lucas County commissioners last summer notified nine unincorporated areas in the county, including Jerusalem Township, that they will be charged for sheriff’s patrols due to budgetary constraints.
The notification sent townships scrambling for ways to raise funds to continue getting their current level of services from the sheriff, or contract with adjacent communities for police protection. To maintain sheriff patrols, Jerusalem Township, which has a population of 3,181 within a 30.4 square mile area, would have been charged $347,000 annually by the sheriff.
Commissioners had agreed to allow the township to pay just 65 percent of the amount for the first year, 80 percent the second year, then 100 percent the third year had the levy passed.
If the township does not pay $347,000 to the county, the sheriff will only respond to emergency calls and will no longer patrol the township, which had a budget of under $2 million last year.
The police steering committee is expected to provide a recommendation to the board of trustees when its research is completed, according to Frederick.
“We’re going to present a recommendation that we think is the best approach,” said Frederick, who is a Toledo police officer. “I’m a person who believes exploring all of our options. We’re not going to limit ourselves.”
The committee has discussed with the City of Oregon about police coverage, he said.
“It’s more than they want to handle, so they really don’t want to get involved, but they have given us a lot of good advice,” said Frederick.
He has set up a meeting with Marcy Kaptur’s office to get some guidance, including whether there are grants available to fund police protection, he said.
Putting another levy on the ballot hasn’t been ruled out, he said, but it would not be similar to the levy that was on the ballot last November.
“Our primary concern is to make it palatable to the residents, because we’re all taxpayers, too. That’s one of our big concerns, because taxes seem to keep going up. We want to ensure that people are getting what they’re paying for, and making it reasonable for everybody. The first approach wasn’t so reasonable for each taxpayer,” said Frederick. “We’re exploring if it’s even feasible. Resources are pretty strained right now. So even if the sheriff’s department covers for us, it depends on what type of coverage the citizens want. Ultimately, it’s up to them.”
Meanwhile, Jerusalem Township Trustee Joe Kiss recently appeared at a Springfield Township trustee meeting to seek support for finding options to provide police services.
Springfield Township also had a police levy that was defeated by voters last November, and formed a police steering committee similar to Jerusalem Township’s.
“It might be something to consider, that we could try and get our committees together for a meeting, or two. If we can’t do that, then we’re always open for input. We’d be happy to work together, or give you our ideas or thoughts, whether over the phone or in a public setting,” said Kiss.
“If we have to pay for protection, what will be the best and most cost-effective way for the township to do it: Go with the sheriff and give him the $350,000, start our own police department, or do another levy?” added Kiss. “We’re just being proactive because we don’t want to be behind in the event we will have to make a decision.”
Springfield Township Trustee Andy Glenn said after the meeting that it is a good idea for townships to share ideas on police protection.
“The whole idea is for all of us to keep open communications as to where we’re at in any kind of negotiations with the county,” said Glenn. “It’s just a way for us not to get separated from the herd. If we all stick together, it will end up working out for everybody.”
Currently, the sheriff is maintaining one deputy per eight hour shift in Jerusalem Township, which provides a sheriff’s substation in the town hall, said Kiss.
“Right now, nothing has changed. We’re still waiting to see what happens with the sheriff,” said Kiss. “Obviously, we’re hoping that the sheriff is able to continue the service we’ve been provided. That would be wonderful for our citizens and township. That’s what we’re hoping, that somehow that will be resolved and everything will remain the same. But in the event it doesn’t, our steering committee is trying to figure out the best way to provide protection for the township,” said Kiss.