BLANCHESTER — Burglaries have declined in the village, but a lower budget and service reductions to the police department has negatively impacted community outreach efforts stated Police Chief Scott Reinbolt in his recently released 2016 annual report.
“I’ve seen community outreach as kind of an investment for the future, and we’re not making that investment anymore,” Reinbolt said. “I don’t know if we’ll see the effects of it immediately, but over the years I think we will.”
The department does not have enough officers to send to community or school events, youth outreach has been “decimated”, downtown foot patrol has been reduced and neighborhood foot patrols are “out of the question” “according to Reinbolt.
The budget cuts have been an ongoing pattern, he said. In 2013 they had a budget $724,500, now down to $556,000 in 2016.
“Personnel cuts take up about 80 percent of the budget — in order to make any real cut you have to dip into the staff,” said Reinbolt. They used to have seven full-time and four part-time officers; now along with the full-timers, they only have one part-time officer. This means that full-time officers will be called in on their time off.
“This overtime is not necessarily a welcome benefit; we often call officers into work from home, and many times those calls come in the middle of the night, during kids’ birthday parties, or on a sunny Saturday afternoon,” Reinbolt said in the report.
Reinbolt has said that he is proud of the dedication that the officers have shown by coming in at a moment’s notice, and that commitment is what solves the cases. According to the annual report, in 2006 when he first started as chief there were 23 burglaries, but there were only six last year.
He said in the report that have had to cut services and, according to him, they are the only village department to make substantial cuts. According to the report, in 2014 they stopped responding to non-injury wrecks that occur on private property and to calls of people locking keys in their car.
“We have rape cases come in, burglary and robbery cases and those take a lot of time to investigate and to investigate right. We clear a lot of cases here. Our clearance rate is three times as much for the national average. We put the time in to solve them, but you need the people to put the time in,” said Reinbolt.
Reinbolt gave Blanchester Mayor John Carman and the council copies of his report and while no questions were asked during the Jan. 26 council meeting, he hopes they start to look at it more.
“I think the council is starting to see this and have tried to balance their budget and cutting everyone equally. But I think they’re realizing that some city services are more vital than others,” Reinbolt said. “I hope they understand we can only cut so much.”
Reinbolt indicated that the report is not meant to be a scare tactic to the council or the public, and he has fought against those tactics, but he wants to stabilize where the department is now.
Mayor Carman has met with the Clinton County Sheriff Ralph Fizer Jr., inquiring about possible assistance the county might provide if budget constraints leave the town’s police force understaffed during certain shifts, the News Journal reported in early January.
“Although our Village’s budget has remained steady, due to reduced revenues the Village faces a more than $130,000 budget deficit,” Carman stated then. “Hard cuts must be made, and Council and I would not be doing our duty if we weren’t fully exploring and discussing every available option to save money.”
Fizer offered increased patrols, business and home checks and occasionally stationing a deputy within the village, the mayor added.
Reinbolt said that he is waiting to hear back from council on the 2017 budget.
The next Blanchester Village Council meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 9.
Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574