BLANCHESTER — An increase in the police department’s budget could lead to a larger staff and a stronger community connection in 2020.
In his 2019 annual report, Blanchester Police Chief Scott Reinbolt highlighted that 2019 was a busy year for the department, which has put a strain on their small staff.
Their calls continued to show an upward trend, with 170 more made in 2019 compared to 2018. Demand for police service increased by 61 percent over the past five years with the staff remaining static.
The police department’s budget saw a dip between 2015-2017, but had been increasing since then. Their 2020 budget — $686,500 — represents their biggest increase with over $94,000 more than last year’s.
Reinbolt feels encouraged by the increase, with a good portion going towards raises for the existing staff. He also hopes the funds will allow them to re-establish community connections they lost in the past five years.
He told the News Journal that back when their department had 10 or 11 officers, he would regularly send out officers to church lunches, senior citizen gatherings, community dinners, sporting events and other social events.
“Officers stopped to play pick-up basketball with teenagers and I had officers assigned to intermittent neighborhoods foot patrol in response to high demand for police service in certain neighborhoods,” said Reinbolt.
He also hopes an increase in staff would help with morale among the officers, and maybe lighten their workloads.
“I would like to see us back to our ‘pre-poverty’ staffing level, which was 11 officers — seven full-time and four part-time. Ideally, I would like to see eight full-time and three part-time,” he said.
As of now, he believes he had the funds to add another part-time position.
He hopes the 2019 police report will begin a dialogue with Mayor John Carman and the Blanchester council to increase the department staff.