Council hopes to hire more sheriff’s deputies to patrol Canal Winchester
Canal Winchester residents soon could see more Fairfield County sheriff’s deputies patrolling the community.
City Council introduced legislation at its Sept. 21 meeting that would add one deputy to the staff assigned to Canal Winchester as early as this year and possibly another in 2021.
“I think this is a great starting point,” council Vice President Mike Coolman said. “And the ability to add another officer after the new year I don’t think is overstepping our boundaries. I think you’ll find after the new census, our city will be a city of greater than 10,000 people.”
Canal Winchester has a three-year agreement with the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office through Dec. 31, 2021, to provide police protection for $1.16 million annually.
The contract currently provides for 11 deputies, including a full-time sergeant and two deputies covering 24-hour shifts seven days a week and a third deputy to work a shift mutually agreed upon by the mayor and the sheriff.
A full-time dispatcher also is assigned to the city.
Each additional deputy would cost the city $88,000 annually, said Amanda Jackson, city finance director.
A 2021 spending plan reviewed by City Council in July included funding for one additional deputy. However, council will not vote on next year’s budget until November or December.
Mayor Mike Ebert also is expected to reach out to the Ohio Retired Police Chiefs Association about a possible study to compare Canal Winchester’s law-enforcement staffing levels to those of similar-size cities.
The proposed ordinance received the first of three readings Sept. 21.
“I’m going to support this ordinance, but I’d be more comfortable if we knew where Madison Township’s police force stood with our $600,000 that they take from (our) taxpayers for service,” Councilman Bob Clark said. “I don’t think we’re getting our full share of that.”
Canal Winchester residents pay approximately $600,000 annually in property taxes to help fund the township’s police department, which has 16 full-time officers patrolling 40 square miles.
Madison Township police Chief Gary York, who provides monthly statistics to council, has said his officers are being more visible in Canal Winchester.
Through August, 978 of the township police department’s 13,922 calls for service this year were in Canal Winchester, York said.
However, because Madison Township officers do not have the ability to hear Fairfield County radio communications, they are not dispatched into the city.
Also, any citations written by township officers in Canal Winchester go to municipal court and not the city’s mayor’s court.
In 2019, City Council approved a resolution to allow Madison Township officers to cite people into mayor’s court, but an agreement between the city and township never has been finalized.