|Portage halts patrols - at least for now||| Print ||
|Written by By DEBBIE ROGERS Sentinel Staff Writer|
|Friday, 08 January 2010 10:00|
PORTAGE - Officers flipped their ticket books closed and parked their cruisers permanently last month when the village police department ceased operations.
At Monday's council meeting, Mayor Mark Wolford said he hopes someday to re-open the police department once Portage gets back on sound financial footing. The village has been in fiscal emergency with the state since April and finished 2009 $162,000 in debt. As part of its five-year recovery plan, the police department was closed.
Councilman Carl Crawford asked whether the village was going to have an auxiliary, or unpaid, police force.
Wolford said that was not an option, unless Portage could employ a police chief or town constable.
If a 1 percent income tax passes in May and expenses are held down, perhaps an officer could be hired at minimum wage for 10 hours a week, the mayor said. Any hire like that would also have to be approved by the oversight committee.
The mayor and clerk both said they have noticed increased Wood County Sheriff patrols in the village over the last few weeks.
"I've seen more sheriff (patrols) in the last three months than (ever before)," Wolford said.
Clerk-Treasurer Bruce Shepherd said he recently saw a traffic stop on Ohio 25 and a deputy cruise down his residential street.
"They're going to take care of us," he said.
Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn said there have been increased patrols in Portage. Even though the village doesn't contract with the sheriff, he said deputies are making more of an effort to patrol the village as they head out to other communities, or back to the office on East Gypsy Lane Road in Bowling Green.
Ten Wood County communities, including Grand Rapids, Weston, Tontogany, Cygnet, Jerry City, Troy Township and Bairdstown, contract with the sheriff for extra service, such as regular patrols. The cost is $30 an hour.
Wasylyshyn said he's a big believer in high-visibility patrols. But, he said, Portage is not a target because it doesn't have a high crime rate.
It does have a state highway, Route 25, going through it. The sheriff, though, said he doesn't believe that the traffic is a huge issue and that it will continue to be that way even when the lone Portage traffic signal is taken out later this year.
"It is not going to be a strain on the office. We can handle it," Wasylyshyn said of Portage.
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