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State budget cuts impact local police departments

By Jessica Barga
On December 6, 2012

State budget cuts are affecting nearly every police department in Ohio this year. Some local townships are searching for ways to keep costs down and still provide service to citizens.

One of these police departments is in Butler Township, located to the northeast of Oxford in Montgomery County. The township includes areas north of Dayton. According to Butler Township Trustee Mike Lang, there were two levies on the ballot in the township this year, but neither of them passed. The levies would have provided tax dollars to help fund the police department.

"Our township police department has never been solely funded by police levies for the past 20 years," Lang said.

But with budget cuts from the state, the levies were needed to provide some of the $300,000 to $500,000 a year that funds the department, according to Lang.

Lang said the township is looking at several different ways to keep its police department running properly.

"We have three options," Lang said. "[The first is] we can keep going as-is - and we're currently not staffing enough officers anyway. We only have two on duty right now. The second is to form a joint district with another community. And the third is to contract out police services."

Forming a joint district with another police department would mean the two departments would share jurisdiction and costs, according to Lang.

"Do I think that's necessarily the right option [for us]? No," Lang said. "No community around here has shown an interest in merging departments at the moment."

The option to contract services from another police department could also pose problems, according to Lang.

In this situation, the township would need to hire another police department to provide services in that area, meaning that things like response time and availability could be compromised, Lang said.

According to Lang, no matter what option is chosen, a solution needs to be found soon.

"In Montgomery County, I don't think anyone is in as dire straits as we are," added Lang.

Even though police departments all across Ohio are facing potential cutbacks, it can be difficult to find solutions that benefit all parties.

Police Chief R. Steven Bailey of the Miami Township Police Department said a consolidation with Butler Township would not be likely.

"They're on the north side [of Dayton] and we're located toward the south side, so that wouldn't make any sense...some other departments in the Dayton area were still thinking about merging departments though," Bailey said.

If a similar situation were to strike Oxford, sophomore Isaiah Fleetwood said the city would likely face the same problems that places like Butler Township are currently having.

"Budget cuts would definitely have a negative impact," Fleetwood said. "Crime rates are relatively low in Oxford, but they might go up, and then there would be lots of people who would become unemployed."

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