Ross Township calls emergency meeting about investigation into police department
ROSS TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WXIX) - Ross Township Trustees held an “emergency meeting” behind closed doors Wednesday “to discuss the investigation of charges or complaints against a public employee.”
This comes after FOX19 NOW broke the story Monday that Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser asked the state’s law enforcement agency in a formal letter “for the criminal investigation of certain alleged payroll irregularities occurring in the police department of Ross Township, Ohio.”
Ross Township Trustees issued a statement following the emergency meeting:
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation released the Aug. 31 letter to FOX19 NOW in response to our public record request.
His letter is to Senior Special Agent Richard Ward at BCI’s Southwest Major Crimes.
“Dear Agent Ward,” the prosecutor wrote, “Please accept this letter as my formal request upon BCI as Prosecutor of Butler County, Ohio for the criminal investigation of certain alleged payroll irregularities occurring in the police department of Ross Township, Ohio. If there is any more specificity required, please do not hesitate to contact me, but I understand you have already been briefed on certain details of this matter. Thank you and as always good to hear from you.”
The agent responded, “Thanks, Mike!”
A BCI spokesman tells FOX19 NOW the investigation remains ongoing and he has no additional information to share.
Gmoser also has declined to comment, saying he wouldn’t talk about an ongoing probe.
“There is absolutely nothing I can share with you at this point,” he said.
Lt. Joe Fuller at the Butler County Sheriff’s Office said Monday they are not part of the investigation.
Township officials including Trustee Keith Ballauer and Administrator Laurie Kile all declined to comment, including when we asked if this probe involved other township departments.
“No, not during the investigation,” Kile wrote in an email to FOX19 NOW.
Ballauer, who used to work for the police department, is the one who discovered the alleged discrepancies, FOX19 NOW has confirmed.
Police Chief Burt Roberts said Monday he could not comment on the investigation because he was not aware of it and said no one from BCI has talked to him.
Ross Township Police Department is a small agency with seven full-time officers and one part-time who patrol the community of about 3,500 residents in western Butler County near the Hamilton County border along State Route 128.
The police department became a full-time one in 2019, the same year Roberts was selected as the police chief after the former one, Darryl Haussler, retired.
Chief Roberts has worked over the last four years to build the department. He’s a hands-on chief who doesn’t hesitate to fill in on the third shift if needed.
He started annual community events for officers to connect and build trust with the residents they serve and secured hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants to hire and retain more officers.
In June, township trustees approved placing two levies on the November general election ballot to fund the police department and keep it fully self-sufficient, according to meeting minutes and meeting video posted on its website.
Voters are being asked to renew a 3.75 mill levy that costs $105 annually per $100,000 home and an additional 1.5 mill levy that would cost about $52 per $100,000.
The additional levy would generate about $361,053 annually and the current one collects about $800,000 annually.
The police budget is $900,000 to $1 million.
Voters have rejected three tax hikes for Ross Locals Schools.
But trustees said during the June work session when they agreed the levies were needed that they felt there would be enough community support for police.
“The school levy got blown out pretty good,” said Trustee John Fisher said, according to the online June 15 meeting video.
“If we didn’t have a police department because we don’t have an appropriate funding mechanism in place I think (developers) would say ‘Well, you don’t have much confidence in your town. Why would I bring in development and risk my own money when you don’t even have a police department?”
If the levies do not pass, the future of the police department could be in jeopardy.
In that event, the Butler County Sheriff’s Office would likely provide law enforcement services.
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