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Moorefield Twp. cuts contract for sheriff’s deputy

Emergency response times for law enforcement could nearly triple at the end of the month after Moorefield Twp. trustees voted to end their contract with the sheriff’s office, eliminating a deputy stationed locally to respond to calls.

Moorefield Twp. has contracted with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office for the use of one deputy since 1995. But due to the loss of about $120,000 in estate tax and state funding, township trustee Bob Mount said the board voted Tuesday to make up some of the shortfall by not renewing its contract for the deputy, effective Jan. 1.

The township pays about $107,000 to the sheriff’s office for contract services, which includes the salary, vehicle and maintenance of the full-time deputy as well as when they hire a deputy to work special events off-hours.

“Our whole thing is the safety of our residents in this township,” Mounts said. “It’s just directly about money because we are very upset about losing this.”

The sheriff’s office was informed of the move last week. There was a vacancy at the sheriff’s office, so the cost of employing Deputy Steven Elliott, who was assigned to Moorefield Twp., will be absorbed into the general fund. While Sheriff Gene Kelly said he believes trustees are doing “the responsible thing” by balancing his budget, he said the work completed by Elliott was no small task.

“Northridge itself is as large as the city of Urbana and Moorefield Twp. is a very large area,” he said. “The calls for service are up there.”

There are about 12,500 residents in Moorefield Twp. Typically, it would take the assigned deputy about one to two minutes to respond to a call in the township. Kelly said that time will likely jump to a minimum of six to seven minutes, depending on where the patrol deputy is when the call is received.

Moorefield Twp. receives the third highest amount in the county with about 1,000 calls each year. As of the end of October, 591 criminal reports were taken in the township, resulting in 162 arrests. Also, 369 citations were issued and 47 traffic crashes have been investigated by the sheriff’s office. That’s work Kelly said will have to be absorbed by road patrol deputies, who are responsible for covering large districts in the county each shift.

Jeremy Sellers has been a resident of Moorefield Twp. for 31 years. Recently, he’s had his car broken into twice. He said he’s concerned losing a deputy presence will only increase crime.

“Not having (a deputy here) to me is putting a flier out there that now, for criminal activity, Moorefield Twp. is open for business,” he said. “You can’t put a price on law enforcement. It’s priceless.”

Trustees plan to still contract with the sheriff’s office for some services. In addition to special events, Mounts said they’ve budgeted for a deputy to work 12 hours a week through three shifts to cover peak times of calls for service in the township.

Trustees plan to put the issue to voters in November 2014 asking for a safety levy to cover the cost of a designated deputy. This isn’t the first time the township has turned to voters. A safety levy was put on the ballot three times previously, but failed each time, Mounts said.

Only a handful of townships contract to have a deputy assigned directly to their area, instead of relying on the deputies patrolling each side of the county. Mad River Twp. and Bethel Twp. each contract for one full-time deputy, while New Carlisle contracts for four deputies.

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