Funding is roadblock to police merger

Leaders from Brookfield and Hubbard townships seem pretty far apart on merely interpreting a Youngstown State University study into whether those communities and Hubbard city should merge their police departments.

Brookfield Trustee Gary Lees said the three departments are operating on skeleton crews and the study’s authors expressed dismay at how the law enforcement agencies are managing. ”There’s warning signs there,” Lees said. ”There’s a red flag.”

But Hubbard Township Trustee Joseph Gleydura said, ”There’s really no reason for us to make any change unless it has something to really offer us because we’re all really well off where we are now.”

Huh?

If these guys are that far apart on just interpreting the study, taxpayers in the communities are in trouble.

Representatives from all three communities did agree that the $27,000 study was disappointing. So they have turned to the Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office for help in taking the next step.

Therein lies a lesson for others. Perhaps it would be best to use the county agency from the onset when contemplating shared law enforcement services.

The study points out one roadblock: the communities fund their police departments by various means – income tax by the city, property levies by the townships. Judging by how the elected officials talk, that roadblock is a deal breaker.

In reality, it should be pretty easily overcome, and State Rep. Sean O’Brien, D-Brookfield, has said as much. He has agreed to take the lead on trying to make the necessary change in state law that would allow the communities to use a common means of generating funding for a consolidated department.

There are other hurdles, especially those involving multiple employee unions and contracts. But creating efficiency helps keep more police officers on the street without further burdening taxpayers. It’s worth the effort to overcome the hurdles.