BLANCHESTER — The village mayor has met with the county sheriff, inquiring about possible assistance the county might provide if budget constraints leave the town’s police force understaffed during certain shifts.
Clinton County Sheriff Ralph Fizer Jr. said Wednesday he met a few weeks ago with Blanchester Mayor John M. Carman and Village Solicitor Andrew T. McCoy to informally discuss available options to help out certain times of the day. Fizer said he has not heard back.
In a statement emailed Wednesday to the News Journal, Carman said the potential of cost savings led to the meeting with the sheriff.
“Although our Village’s budget has remained steady, due to reduced revenues the Village faces a more than $130,000 budget deficit. 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,” stated Carman.
Fizer offered increased patrols, business and home checks and occasionally stationing a deputy within the village, the mayor added.
Fizer told the News Journal he could not provide a deputy to Blanchester for an eight-hour shift unless the Village wanted to contract for the entire shift.
Fizer explained that his department does not have enough deputies to assign one to Blanchester for a lengthy span of time because doing so would take away law enforcement protection from the rest of Clinton County.
If the Village of Blanchester wanted an off-duty deputy for, say, a second shift on Friday or Saturday, the Village would have to pay for the deputy’s services, the sheriff said. The law permits that arrangement if there’s a formal agreement in place, said Fizer.
In such a situation, the time period would be posted at the sheriff’s office and deputies could voluntarily sign up for those hours in Blanchester, the sheriff said.
In a Tuesday, Jan. 3 memo by Blanchester Police Chief Scott Reinbolt to village council members, he wrote it is his understanding the mayor had met with the sheriff “to discuss his [sheriff’s] department providing law enforcement services to the village” during night-time hours.
Reinbolt added that no elected official, including the mayor, had discussed the details of such a plan with him.
“I am frankly appalled, frustrated and demoralized by this situation,” wrote Reinbolt. “If the village is considering elimination of basic police services, it seems to me only logical that I should have been consulted beforehand. If the village were considering outsourcing snowplowing to the Ohio Department of Transportation, wouldn’t it make sense to consult the street department commissioner prior to doing so?”
Carman stated in his Wednesday email that he will be meeting with Reinbolt to discuss the chief’s concerns.
The mayor also said in his email, “Our Police Department is first rate with professional, conscientious officers who serve and protect our Village.”
Carman said that while saving money is a necessary consideration due to the projected budget deficit, village officials are committed first to the safety of village residents.
Reinbolt, in his memo, suggested that a discussion of “outsourcing” police services may have occurred in a Dec. 29 executive, closed-door session of village council with the stated purpose of discussing compensation. He stated if that did take place, he believed it would have violated Ohio’s open meetings act.
Carman, in his email, stated, “Any implication that Council met inappropriately and without legal authority is misinformed, not based in fact or law and is wrong.”
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.