Oregon council unhappy township expects police response

Kelly J. Kaczala

        At a recent city council meeting, Oregon officials expressed opposition to any expectations in Jerusalem Township that its police department would provide assistance to the township without compensation.
        Sheriff Mike Navarre told Jerusalem Township trustees at a meeting in May that “Most of you are not going to see any difference in police service as long as Oregon continues to bail us out. They’re kind enough to do that.”
        That didn’t sit too well with Oregon officials after reading about the comments in an article that appeared in The Press Newspapers. At a council meeting after the article was published, some Oregon officials said taxpayers should not be paying for police coverage in the township.
        “I’ve talked to several members of council about it,” said Oregon City Administrator Mike Beazley. “While we want Jerusalem Township to be successful, we do emphasize, though, that Oregon police’s primary job is to be Oregon police. There is no change in our procedure or practice. Our police are going to be the Oregon police. We have always backed up other communities when possible. And we will continue to do that. We really feel for the challenges Jerusalem Township face. But they’re the same square miles as Oregon is. The Bono Curve is a long way from the corner of Wheeling and Pickle. So we are aware of that. This is not something we expect any change on.”
        Councilman Terry Reeves was much more forceful in his opposition.
Under the bus
        “In the article, it sounded like we were thrown under the bus,” he said. “I am all for mutual aid. I have no issues whatsoever with that. But we can’t shortchange our citizens by covering Jerusalem Township without being compensated for that. We need to have a committee meeting with our police to find out exactly how many calls we’re going on compared to leaving our citizens with maybe one or two or three police cars. We’re a little short staffed right now where people are filling in on overtime. We can’t be short changing our citizens with the tax dollars we are paying to go cover Jerusalem Township just because the sheriff doesn’t want to cover it, or only will cover it 50 percent of the time. Jerusalem Township is in Lucas County, and it pays Lucas County taxes as well.”
        He said he had a celebration of life for his brother weeks ago at the Jerusalem Township fire hall. “There were three sheriff’s cars sitting there on a Saturday afternoon. I’m not trying to throw people under the bus in the sheriff’s department, but every time my wife and I drive down to the Oregon Inn, there is one sitting there on Wynn Road. I don’t know if they are allowed to take the cars home at night instead of patrolling. But we should not have to patrol anything out in Jerusalem Township. Somehow someway, this has got to get back to the powers that be in Jerusalem Township - that we are not going to cover unless it’s a mutual aid situation.”
        Council President Tim Zale asked Oregon Police Chief Brandon Begin if the state patrol is still taking care of traffic crashes in the township.
        “They do take care of the crashes in the township,” said Begin.
        “I think it would be simple if you could give us a breakdown of calls for service in Jerusalem Township. Are we getting called directly, or are we backing somebody up?” asked Zale.
        “Sheriff Navarre does have a challenge covering Jerusalem Township,” said Begin. “It’s the only Lucas County township that is on this side of the county. Currently, we don’t go into any calls of service out there unless we’re called to do that. We assist with emergency calls, we assist if there is a dangerous situation, that’s what we’re going for. We will plan to continue that. We will not go out and handle non-emergency calls. We don’t do that currently. We have no plans on doing that. In police work, you have more than enough staff to handle what you have going on. It’s that one percent of the time that something major happens, where you have every single crew tied up and non-emergency calls get pushed back before we can respond to them. We have not had any issues with backing up mutual aid in the county. We’ve done that before for Northwood and other agencies, or Perrysburg Township. If we have the extra personnel to do so, we’ll back people up. We have mutual aid agreements. We have no plans of doing non-emergency calls out there.”
        Jerusalem Township Trustee Mark Sattler on Wednesday said the township did not expect police services from the city other than mutual aid.
        “We appreciate and support mutual aid. Our expectations are, we want some sheriff’s deputies’ presence in the township. Navarre assured us we would have a 50-percent presence of sheriff’s deputies.  Another law enforcement officer nearby will respond to an emergency in the township. Oregon is right next door to us, and they’ll likely respond to the call as mutual aid. I would not expect Oregon police to respond to non-emergency calls. It’s the sheriff’s jurisdiction. We expect a presence from sheriff’s deputies to deter crime. But we would not expect Oregon to respond to non-emergency calls,” said Sattler.
        Navarre could not be reached for comment by The Press’s deadline on Thursday.


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