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Liberty Township residents still unsatisfied with Police

Danielle Ryan

(1/19) Residents of Liberty Township are still unsatisfied with the availability of the Township’s Police Department. The January 3 meeting housed a room full of residents in the community still concerned about the lack of police coverage seen in the Township.

This topic was brought up during the December meeting, but many residents attended the January meeting to once again voice their concerns. Those who attended the meeting said they are still noticing decreased police coverage within the Township, several re-citing 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 in a green dump truck and pick up truck. Police Chief Brand Briggs has spoken to the dump truck driver, but has not personally seen him driving yet.

Residents still say the speeding and reckless drivers are out of hand and will inevitably end up hurting someone if something isn’t done. After having addressed this topic in December, some members of the community still question why they are continuing to see the same offenders without penalization.

Supervisor Chairman John Bostek replied to resident’s concerns stating that he has seen officers present on Tract Road, as he resides on that road. A few residents also spoke in defense of the Police department noting that they have seen officers present in the Township as well. One resident spoke out saying that others must remember that Liberty Township only has one full-time officer. The number of hours he has been putting in is a third of the time that Carroll Valley’s three full time officers are working. Therefore, in ratio they have been equally covering each other.

During the January 10th Carroll Valley Borough meeting, Police Chief Richard Hileman, spoke in regards to the reported 236 calls Carroll Valley made to Liberty Township. He mentioned that the number 236 might be misleading, as it is a "top line number." Carroll Valley made 96 unassisted calls to Liberty Township excluding traffic stops and assists, and made 121 traffic stops in Liberty Township during the course of 2016. On the other hand, Liberty responded 65 times, unassisted, in Carroll Valley and Fairfield.

Hileman also went on to explain the "Police on Duty Program" which was set up in 1994 as an expansion on the partnership between the municipalities of Carroll Valley, Liberty Township, Fairfield and Hamiltonban Township. It was a program set in place that allowed for "neighbors helping neighbors," in an area of the county where municipalities are so "cut up" in nature. The program was installed with the idea of rapid response for short-term issues. It was not intended for long-term investigations outside of a municipality’s normal jurisdiction. Liberty Township is the only Township Carroll Valley participates in this program with, as they are currently contracted with Fairfield and Hamiltonban doesn’t have a police department. Within this agreement, Liberty covers Carroll Valley and Fairfield.

Residents of Liberty Township still wonder if it would it make sense to hire the Carroll Valley police department and do away with some of their part-time officers? Would this be a more economical move for Liberty? In answer to their questions, Bostek said, "I don’t think you want your taxes raised." Bostek said that several years ago the offer from Carroll Valley was, for 40 hours of on call service, approximately $80,000 per year. Carroll Valley Police Chief Hileman reported: "I do not believe we ever arrived at a final number in our discussions and any current determination of cost would have to be current. However, we are always willing to assist and find ways to work with our neighbors. If Liberty wishes to talk about more about it, we are certainly willing to do that, but we respect them and would wait for their request for any further info from us."

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