Canal Winchester City Council is considering a new three-year contract with the Fairfield County Sheriff's Office to provide police protection for residents.

The proposed $1.16 million agreement, which would begin Jan. 1, provides for a full-time sergeant plus two deputies covering 24-hour shifts seven days a week, and a third deputy to "work a shift mutually agreed upon in writing by the mayor ... and the sheriff." There is also a full-time dispatcher assigned to the city.

Council is expected to vote on the new agreement at its Nov. 5 meeting.

The current contract for approximately $1.1 million annually expires Dec. 31. It was amended late last year to add another deputy after a generic FBI study indicated the need for an additional patrol officer, Mayor Mike Ebert said.

"The mid-shift deputy comes in at 11 a.m. and works until 7 p.m., so he's working ... kinda between shifts, when typically there was nobody on duty, and they're changing out shifts," Ebert said. "That's been helping a lot. He's mostly patrolling the streets for things like speeding."

The proposed contract also includes annual funds for a new patrol vehicle.

"The contract has always included the purchase of a vehicle for the department, and that cost has increased from $24,000 per year to $40,000 per year in the new contract to accommodate the purchase of an SUV as the sheriff phases out the Dodge Chargers," city Finance Director Amanda Jackson said.

The city also has studied the cost of maintaining its own police force, which would add expenses for personnel, equipment, vehicles, weapons, training and facilities. Ebert said it would "cost a whole bunch of money" and time to create a city police force.

"Even if council were to say at its next meeting, 'We want to start our own police department,' that would take a minimum of five years to implement," Ebert said. "First, we would have to hire a police chief."

Over the past year, Canal Winchester officials have had discussions with Madison Township trustees about providing some level of police service in that community. However, nothing has come of the talks.

Canal Winchester property owners also are taxed by Madison Township levies. According to the Franklin County Auditor's Office, residents pay approximately $581,000 for Madison Township police services, Jackson has said.

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