PERRY TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WDTN) – A township in Montgomery County is considering a proposal to dissolve its police department and have a different jurisdiction take over its patrols.
The Perry Township Board of Trustees met for their regular meeting Tuesday night to present the proposal to the public.
2 NEWS was there for the meeting, but not allowed inside it meeting hall, citing capacity.
Several people also started to gather outside the building unable to get in, but still worried about the future of their police department.
“I don’t want it to happen,” Perry Township landowner Virginia Chatterton said. “I’m happy with the police department coverage that I have.”
Discussions started late last year between township trustees and New Lebanon officials proposing the New Lebanon Police Department take over patrolling the township.
If contracted by the township, the New Lebanon Police Department will assign one officer to the township and have one officer available as backup every day.
Currently, the Perry Township Police Department operates 24/7 with five full-time officers and three part-time officers.
Trustees said during Tuesday’s meeting they are concerned about shifts going uncovered, and the budget needed to fund the department.
“When you get a proposal from from someone that guarantees no increases for very good foreseeable future, time to come, I think we probably should have looked at this sooner,” Perry Township Trustee Zach Music said.
The township will pay for New Lebanon’s services using the budget already set for the Perry Township Police Department, which comes from a police levy passed by voters in 2018.
Perry Township Police Chief Tim Littleton said just learned of the proposal late last week from social media.
His officers cover more than 36 square miles and serve 6,000 township residents. He said he’s worried about the safety of residents under the plan.
“We are rural out here and the we’re very prone to thefts, whether be catalytic converters, home invasions, we have that out here,” Littleton said. “So if you’re taking the number of people that are patrolling at one time, and you’re knocking down, you’re opening up a wider stance for the criminals to take and seize opportunity on that.”
The New Lebanon Police Department posted a press release to their Facebook page Tuesday morning to answer questions about the proposal. New Lebanon Police Chief Curtis Hensley said it benefits both sides.
“I would not have been comfortable forwarding a proposal that was not mutually beneficial for both,” Hensley said.
Chatterton said she hopes that if the discussion to pursue this proposal continues, the township will consider holding the meeting in a larger venue.
“We want them to take and put, postpone this until a further date to where the residents, the community can understand what is trying to take place at this time,” Chatterton said.
If the proposal does go through, all eight of the current Perry Township police officers would lose their jobs. According to the release from New Lebanon police, those would receive priority re-hire at the New Lebanon police department if there are open positions.