Center Twp. forms own police force

LISBON – Center Township trustees are creating a police department that will be staffed by a single part-time officer, at least for now, starting in 2015.

Trustee Greg Shive said they voted recently to begin the process by hiring Adam Little to fill the part-time police officer slot and ordering a 2015 Ford Explorer for him to use.

The township relies on the sheriff’s office and highway patrol for protection, but Shive said they decided they needed something more.

Between 2010 and 2013, the sheriff’s office responded to between 631 to 663 calls annually in the township. This included 131 thefts, 88 domestic disputes, 22 breaking and enterings, 43 threats, 45 harassment complaints, 45 vandalism calls, 30 assaults and 74 juvenile complaints. Shive said these crimes, along with constant speeding complaints they receive from residents, led to the decision to create a police department.

“We’ve had people who have come in or called and say, ‘Can’t you do anything about these speeders,'” he said.

Little, a former part-time police officer in Lisbon and Perry Township, works full-time at National Heat Exchange in Columbiana. Taking the township police job will keep his law enforcement certification current.

Little, who lives in Lisbon, will work eight hours per week and be paid $12 an hour. Shive said Little’s hours will vary, depending on the need.

“We kind of like him to mix it up, and I think once people see a presence in the township, things will change. At least we hope so,” Shive said.

Trustees expect to set aside $50,000 from the general fund for the police department, plus $36,000 from the equipment fund to purchase the Ford Explorer. “Hopefully, we won’t have to put more than $50,000 aside each year,” he said.

The trustees did their homework before making a decision, meeting with the Leetonia and Lisbon police chiefs and Salem Township trustees, who have a constable. They also spoke with Sheriff Ray Stone, who said his standard fee for assigning a deputy specifically to patrol a township is $35 an hour – $25 for salary/benefits and $10 to cover cruiser expenses.

Shive said they opted to start their own department because they are considering adding more part-time officers in the future, and this arrangement would be cheaper in the long run.

Little has been sworn in and will spend the next six months setting up the department. “We are going to have him doing administrative stuff, like setting up an office at the (township) garage” and researching state and federal police grants, he said.

The sheriff’s office has offered to handle the dispatching duties for free, but Shive said the trustees also want to speak with the Lisbon department before making a decision.