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Liberty Township residents question Police Department

Danielle Ryan

(12/26) Residents of Liberty Township voiced some concern with the availability of the Township’s Police Department during the December 6th Board of Supervisor’s meeting.

Residents who attended the meeting spoke to say they have noticed decreased police coverage within the Township, several citing multiple recurrent offenders of speeding, and question where the Township’s Police force is. On Tract Road, several residents have made complaints concerning a local who drives too quickly and recklessly. Residents say the speeding and reckless drivers are out of hand and will inevitably end up hurting someone if something isn’t done. Resident Donna Powers worries that no one is being held accountable for what is occurring, including the Police Department, for their duties.

In his monthly report, Police Chief, Brand Briggs, mentioned one traffic citation for the month of November. Briggs also mentioned that 242 hours were logged, and 136.4 gallons of fuel were utilized over 1793 miles in November alone. Resident Jim Hauer questioned why only 1 citation was issued. Briggs simply noted that it is "up to the officers’ discretion as to whether they write citations." As the Township Police Department had been covering Freedom Township at the time and logged 242 hours, residents don’t understand how there were there only a few vehicle stops accounted for.

When the contract with Freedom Township came up for renewal this year, Freedom chose to decline. Hauer spoke again to say, "for three years, Liberty didn’t satisfy that contract, and this year the taxpayers of Liberty Township had to give their tax dollars to offer Freedom free services to get them through the year." Residents want to know if someone is being held liable for Liberty losing a $50,000 contract because they didn’t satisfy the hours. According to a survey issued to Freedom Township residents, the Freedom community desired to do away with the contract with Liberty. Briggs believes there may have been a financial concern as well, as the budget for Freedom is tight for the 2017 year.

Liberty Township may not be covering Freedom anymore, but they still hold a mutual-aid agreement with the Carroll Valley Police Department. Carroll Valley officers are the responding officers when Liberty Township officers are off duty and vice versa. However, in 2016 alone the Carroll Valley Police Department was called to Liberty Township 236 times, and a majority of those calls were unassisted. Residents voiced concern with this number, and referred back to the question of where their own Police Force has been. "We are not getting the services we should be getting from our Police Department, so what are we going to do as a township?" stated Hauer.

Residents wondered if it would it make sense to hire the Carroll Valley police department and do away with some of their part-time officers? Would it be more economical as a Township to hire Carroll Valley as the police force, instead of having its own police department? Since Carroll Valley is reportedly open to expanding into other Townships, residents see hiring them as a viable option. Supervisor Vice Chairman Robert Jackson noted that the Township would need to look into the cost of this option and weigh it against the hours they would be provided.

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