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Fewer police equals fewer tickets

Andy Ouriel • Feb 10, 2014 at 9:50 AM

A sizable staffing reduction handcuffed township police operations last year.

The evidence?

Perkins police’s year-end report shows township officers responded to about 6,500 units of activity, a number more than 18 percent lower than in 2012.

Units of activity include issuing tickets for misdemeanors, felonies and parking violations; writing warnings; and responding to vehicular accidents.

The primary reason for such a dramatic drop in officers’ activity circles back to a staffing shortage.

A $1 million shortfall in the township’s budget, then $9.5 million annually, forced trustees to eliminate four full-time patrol positions in January 2013.

At the time, the full-time staffing level dropped from 20 to 16.

Trustees recalled two of these positions in the months following after finding additional income sources along with union representatives making various concessions.    

But with fewer officers, commanders scaled back on several services — including vehicle lockouts and private property crashes — and scrapped some communityoriented programs.

“The year 2013 was a challenging one,” Perkins police Chief Ken Klamar said.

Klamar, however, remained optimistic about 2014. His No. 1 resolution: “My intention is to bring up the staffing levels, both full and part time, in the police department”

Klamar and others devised several cost-cutting and revenue-generating ideas in the past months to accomplish this task, which tentatively include:

•Receiving about $1.9 million a year now through 2018 through a police levy approved by voters last year. In May, township residents overwhelmingly voted in favor of the police levy, which provides funds through property taxes solely for police operations.

The police department previously competed for money with numerous township departments — parks, roads and others — in the everyday operating budget.

But now, with police funding broken out on its own, commanders know exactly how much they’ll receive for the next few years.

Police operations obtained about $1.8 million from the budget in 2013, down from $2.3 million in 2012. Nosediving property values contributed to the loss.

•Saving almost $300,000 a year by disbanding dispatching operations.

Commanders eliminated its dispatchers in favor of joining the county’s regional dispatch center at the Erie County Sheriff’s Office.

Many other political subdivisions, including Sandusky and Huron, also joined regional dispatch.

The township pays a fee to Erie County based on how many calls are generated from within Perkins.

•Obtaining about $50,000 a year through a crash-cash program.

The program aims to bill at-fault drivers responsible for collisions in Perkins. Officials contracted with a company mainly to reimburse an officer’s time when they respond to crashes.

A rebate will fund costs for police cruiser repairs and replacements, sparing levy funds from covering these expenses.

A full staff would also mean once again providing all the services and programs police officers performed and hosted in years past.

But even if staffing levels remain under 20, Klamar’s prepared to deal with it.

“Regardless of what we are faced with, we will continue to provide the highest quality police services to those who live, work and visit Perkins Township,” Klamar said.

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