Lincoln Heights firefighters return to work, police department still shut down due to insurance troubles
The Lincoln Heights Police Department shut down Thursday (Photo: FOX19 File Photo)
LINCOLN HEIGHTS, OH (FOX19) -
A local police department is without a police force tonight and residents say they're concerned for public safety.
In the 68 years since its incorporation, this is the first time in the memories of many people that Lincoln Heights had to shut down its police and fire departments. So how could village officials let this happen?
According to Village Administrator Stephanie Summerow Dumas, Lincoln Heights was told by their insurance that there would be no lapse in service and that the insurance company would extend the village's deadline, which was originally set for Oct. 1.
However, the deadline wasn't extended and, as of midnight Wednesday, the police and fire departments were shuttered.
Village officials admit their trouble finding an insurance carrier stems from all the lawsuits against Lincoln Heights.
FOX19 NOW has obtained a copy of a letter sent to Stephanie Dumas from Public Entities Pool of Ohio, Lincoln Heights' insurer, which reads in part:
PEP has had several discussion with you and other village officials relative to the frequency and nature of the claims against your village...including 13 separate claims for employment related issues...and 23 claims for allegations of wrongful arrests and violations of civil rights.
The letter continues:
....your membership in the Public Entities Pool of Ohio is terminated effective 10-2-2014.
FOX19NOW talked with Lincoln Heights resident Stephanie Price who says the village has protection from other communities so she's not concerned.
"We got other close people that will come in like Woodlawn, Lockland, Sharonville, Evandale...they get here faster than they would anyway and they're right down the bottom of the hill so it really don't make a difference," she said.
But resident Patricia Gray told FOX19 NOW that her son was murdered seven years ago and now she is concerned about her own safety.
During this lapse in insurance coverage Lincoln Heights' 16 police officers and 15 firefighters are not being paid because, according to the Village manager, they're technically not employees and they'll remain in that status until insurance coverage is restored.
There was a special meeting Thursday night to discuss the future of the departments. The Village did come to an agreement with an insurance provider for the fire department and returned to work Friday at 7 a.m. As for the police department, the Village plans to meet Monday and Tuesday to discuss how to deal with the issues there.