Pickerington Times-Sun

Pickerington, Fairfield County

Councilman wants to make sure mutual-aid pact equitable

By MICHAEL HAYES
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Pickerington City Councilman Jeff Fix is asking city officials to investigate a perceived imbalance in the mutual aid agreement between the Pickerington Police Department and the Fairfield County Sheriff's Office.

Fix said he was prompted to study the issue after he witnessed a fight in Violet Township.

After he dialed 911 he said it was Pickerington Police personnel that responded to the incident and not the Fairfield County Sheriff's Office, which is contracted to patrol the unincorporated areas of the township.

"I came upon one guy beating the heck out of another guy at noon on Saturday (Feb. 17)," Fix said.

"Our police guys showed up for two guys (fighting) in the township," he said.

He advised fellow City Council members at the Feb. 20 council meeting he had some specific questions he would like answered.

"Why were there no (Fairfield County Sheriff's deputies) there?" Fix asked. "How often does it happen for the city to cover for the Sheriff's Office?"

Fix also wanted specifics as to how many runs Pickerington makes in support of the sheriff's office and "vice-versa" as well as the city's total cost of providing that support.

Pickerington Police Commander Matt Delp said Police Chief Mike Taylor asked him to look into the matter.

Delp said his research indicated that in 2012 the Pickerington Police responded to 223 calls in Violet Township "either with (the Sheriff's Office) or for them."

Delp said the Sheriff's Office responded to Pickerington city calls six times, but added he wasn't completely certain of the accuracy of that figure.

Fix advised Pickerington Finance Director Chris Schornack "to provide dollar figures on all costs associated with making a run" by the next Finance Committee meeting in March.

Fix said despite the mutual aid agreement in place between the two agencies, the limited resources of both the Sheriff's Office and Violet Township has created a wide disparity in the level of coverage.

"I feel like the city's taxpayers are artificially subsidizing the township taxpayers by allowing this situation to be in place," said Fix, who added that "financial reparations" from the township could be one option to even out the disparity.

Violet Township Director of Operations Bill Yaple said the discussion is not anything new, but Pickerington officials should vent their frustrations to Fairfield County and not the township.

"If that's the issue somebody has to give the Sheriff's Office more money to hire more deputies," Yaple said.

"We have an agreement with (Fairfield County Sheriff Dave Phalen) to help fund one deputy and patrol the township as we're required, beyond that we don't tell him how many deputies to hire," Yaple said.

He said the township pays that one deputy roughly $57,000 a year for 2,080 man-hours of patrolling a year.

"That's what we're talking about," Yaple said.

He said township residents haven't been vocal about the issue.

"That's the other side of the coin, I'm not saying it's right," Yaple said.

"We don't have a clamor of people saying 'I'm willing to give up more money for more protection.'

"Some people don't want more police protection," Yaple said.

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