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Champion fears future for police

CHAMPION — If the levy doesn’t pass in November, the police department could shut down.

That was the message township trustees stressed Tuesday night in pitching a 1-mill replacement levy for continuation of the police department.

Meanwhile, the new police chief cannot start until he completes missing credentials, trustees said.

THE LEVY

November general election will be the only chance the township has to pass the five-year replacement levy to get money in time to keep the department going, trustees said.

“It is frightening from where I sit that if it doesn’t pass, I’m not sure what we will do for a police department,” trustees Chairman Doug Emerine said.

“The police department will not be able to operate without the levy,” Trustee Bill Templeton said.

The owner of $100,000 home would pay $35 per year if the levy passes.

Several residents suggested seeking grants, but Emerine said for most grants, a local match is required, which the township can’t always produce.

“We look for grants and our department heads look for grants,” he said.

Resident Debra Christ countered that Cortland received $112,000; Warren, $237,000; and Boardman, $628,000 in grant money for their police departments. She said some of the police chiefs wrote the applications for the grants.

Emerine said cities and larger townships may have a better chance to secure such grants, or cities and villages may qualify for grants that townships do not.

Resident Christy Christman said the residents need to know the good service provided by police and fire departments.

“You need to let the residents know that if the levy doesn’t pass, this is what will happen,” Christman said. “We can’t rely on county services.”

Trustee Rex Fee said many residents do not know the services they have until they need them.

POLICE CHIEF

In a related matter, Larry Skaggs, who was hired last month as the next police chief, will not be sworn in as chief until after certain qualifications are met.

Officials said Skaggs likely will be sworn at the October trustees meeting.

Skaggs is in the process of having his credentials recertified through the Ohio State Highway Patrol, from where he retired, Emerine said. He needs to be certified through the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy.

“From what I understand, the State Highway Patrol training is in more depth than the OPOTA training and needs recertified,” Emerine said.

Skaggs also will be required to take a six-hour online domestic violence training course because the OSHP did not have that type of training.

Emerine said several troopers who left the patrol for jobs with other agencies have had to recertify.

The acting chief is Dan Wasko. Former Chief Jeff White retired in June.

Emerine said the chief will write grant applications, and the township will seek help from a grant writer as necessary.

Skaggs, who is putting in volunteer hours at the police department, said he has an officer who took an eight-hour course in advanced criminal investigations through Blue and Gold Law Enforcement Training at $149.

“This will mean we will not have to call another agency for this service, and we will have an officer on staff to be able to utilize this daily,” Skaggs said.

Residents Colbert and Peggy Miller, who were at the meeting, offered to make a $149 donation to the police department to cover the training expense.

Skaggs said once he is sworn in as chief, he will be applying for bulletproof vests for four new officers at $810 each, with the township to cover 25 percent of the cost.

He said he and fire Chief Tom Dempsey were able to secure a substantial donation of between $5,000 and $10,000 worth of furniture, such as filing cabinets, training tables, desks and chairs to replace outdated equipment in the police department. Skaggs said the furniture came from an anonymous university in the state.

He said he also has spoken to Howland Alarm about new four security cameras for the parking lot at the administration, road and police building being paid for by a $4,885 grant.

Skaggs said he hopes to replace outdated equipment, such as radar equipment, using American Recovery Plan funds.

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