Police chief: failed levy causes Russells Point safety concerns

Russells Point might see an increase in emergency response times after a police levy failed by two votes.

The 3-mill levy on the March ballot was the fifth time voters have rejected the issue since 2007, according to Russells Point Police Chief Joe Freyhof.

The police department employs three full-time officers, Freyhof said.

“The purpose of the levy was to maintain that third full-time officer,” he said.

A third officer was hired in 2012 with the help of grant funding, he said. But the funds will only cover the officer’s salary through next year.

The village will then lose the officer, he said, “which will create a gap on some days of 16 hours of coverage.”

“That’s pretty scary,” he said. “My family lives here in town. A lot of my friends live here in town.”

The Logan County Sheriff’s Office responds to calls in the village when Russells Point officers are off-duty, he said. But response times from deputies can be up to 45 minutes to an hour, he said.

The police department works off a levy passed in 1987, he said, that was last renewed in 2001.

But neighbors say members of the community can’t afford any increase to their property taxes.

“People like myself on Social Security and on a fixed income,” said neighbor Michael Grundish. “So it’s very difficult.”

Neighbors will have to pick up the slack if the village loses an officer, he said.

“Everybody has to do their part,” he said. “If they see things going on, they need to call the dispatcher.”

Freyhof will continue to seek out other options for keeping a third officer, he said. But the department does not fit many of the requirements for new grants, he said.

“New grants are looking for 21st century policing in communities that have difficulty dealing with different demographics,” he said, and Russells Point doesn’t have those difficulties.

Other grants are available for school resource officers, Freyhof said, but the department doesn’t have any schools in its jurisdiction.

The remaining officers will continue to do all they can to keep the community safe, Freyhof said.

“The guys are dedicated,” he said. “And that’s because we know most of these people.”