Monday, October 30, 2000

Fairfield Twp. outgrows police force

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        FAIRFIELD TWP. — In the 12 years since township voters last passed a police levy, the population has more than doubled.

        But the number of police officers has not.

        And although Police Chief Richard St. John is not proposing to double his staff if voters approve the 5.9-mill operating levy trustees have put on the Nov. 7 ballot, he does want to increase staff.

        But, without the $1.3 million the levy would provide, services would be curtailed, the chief said.

        “We've continued to see an increase in the number of calls for service year after year,” Chief St. John said. “We're already in the situation where we're forced to prioritize calls because we don't have enough officers.”

        If the levy is approved, trustees have promised to repeal two smaller levies that together equal 5.9 mills and bring in $625,000 annually. The levies are not allowed to grow with inflation.

        This year's police budget of $850,000 is being met by using the last of the department's reserves. Without additional dollars, reductions will have to be made in 2001, he said.

        “We need more officers on the street,” the chief said.

        In the past 10 years the township saw its population more than double, from 8,000 in 1990 to about 16,500 today, the chief said. During that time, the number of officers increased from six full-time and four part-time in 1990 to eight full-time — including the chief — and six part-time today.

        Chief St. John said the need for police services will increase dramatically next summer when Home Depot opens at Ohio 4 Bypass and Princeton Road. A Lowe's and Wal-Mart also were given permission to open.

        “That is a loud, clear signal about the growth of Fairfield Township,” the chief said.

        One officer is assigned to the day shift; two to four officers to the 3-11 p.m. shift — when 60 percent of the calls for service are made; and two officers overnight. With more money the chief would hire two more officers.

        Under his plan, one officer would be freed to work investigations for part of each day. Also in the works is the formation of a bicycle patrol, establishment of a citizen's police academy and a school resource officer for D. Russel Lee Career/Technology Center and assigning an officer to teach the Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program at Fairfield East and North elementaries.

        The owner of a house with a market value of $100,000 would see a net increase in taxes of $98 with the new levy and the repeal of the two smaller levies.


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