Silverton is considering disbanding its police department and instead contracting with the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office for law enforcement.
Village residents are invited to attend two town hall meetings about the topic at 7 p.m. March 3 and 7 p.m. March 12 at the Silverton Paideia School cafeteria, 6829 Stewart Road.
Until two years ago, the village had 10 sworn police officers. That number is down to five because of retirements and resignations. The village has contracted with the sheriff's office for supplemental services since last June.
Village Manager Tom Carroll analyzed three options for law enforcement. Those range from reconstituting the Silverton Police Department, to continuing a hybrid approach with Silverton officers and sheriff's deputies to contracting out patrol and investigative work entirely to the sheriff's office.
Priscilla Thompson commutes in Silverton all the time but lives in Sycamore Township, another community that works with the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office. She says one of the biggest drop-offs is the lack of traffic enforcement.
"I walk up and down it, the neighbors walk up and down that street. So when you've got a small street that doesn't have a lot of traffic enforcement it's a big deal," said Thompson.
So how do the three models compare financially?
Re-building the Silverton Police Department would cost nearly 1.5 million dollars, more than 200 thousand dollars over budget. That's mainly because it costs more to employ a Silverton police officer than a Hamilton County Sheriff's Deputy.
The cheapest option is sharing services, and handing the job over completely would put the department about $55,000 over the 2014 budget.
"If the community wants to keep its police department, and have its own police department then we're going to have to raise more money which is a tax, so a tax increase would be necessary," said Carroll.
Carroll says public safety is the upmost concern in this decision. Don Meinzen owns Silverton Hardware and they've only had about three break-in's during the 99 years they've been open. But he says it's only a matter of time until they see how this change affects the city.
"You don't want to have people afraid to park their cars out front or afraid to walk down the street," said Don Meinzen.
The village manager's Feb. 14 report on law enforcement options is available here.
Copies of the report can be obtained 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday at the Silverton Municipal Building, 6860 Plainfield Road.
Residents may contact the village manager at 513-792-6560 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions and comments.
Residents may also address council during the open forum portion of council meetings. The meetings are the first and third Thursday of the month.
The next meetings are 7 p.m. March 3 and 7 p.m. March 12 at the Silverton Municipal Building.
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