Residents Voice Concerns About Abolishing Police Force
Commercial Point may lose its police force.
The city says it's a logistical issue, but others argue it's an issue between the mayor and the officers. It was discussed at a special council meeting Monday night.
"There's three things a municipality has to have and identity water sewage, fire and police," said former safety director Steve Kaiser.
Many people in Commercial Point are saying it loud and clear. They want their own police officers. The department had been built up to three part time officers. They covered a total of 90 hours a week, but they lost two officers and temporarily brought in sheriff's deputies.
"We drafted a resolution , entered into a 10 week contract," said Mayor Joe Hammond.
The mayor says it went well and it was affordable so the city is considering signing a permanent contract and doing away with the village department.
"It is a business decision," Hammond said.
But some say its far from that.
"This stinks of a shady personal vendetta," said former councilman Jason Thompson.
Earlier this year, former officer John Murphy wasn't confirmed and let go. He said it was because he accused the mayor of making racial remarks and filed a complaint with the EEOC.
"Within six days, they decided to have me removed for what they say was probationary. I was a probationary officer after two and a half years?" said Murphy.
Another reserve officer says he was recently suspended because he wrote a report that included the mayor and two councilman showing up at a police call in favor of someone he'd detained. Some think, because of these issues, the mayor wants to do away with the department.
"I think anybody on the outside looking in, that's obvious, because it was like that," says reserve officer Robert Barna.
Mayor Hammond vehemently denies this.
"It's absolutely untrue," said Hammond. "It had nothing to do with the decision about disbanding the police department."
Others voiced concerns that sheriff's deputies wouldn't provide the coverage of a hometown police department. The sheriff addressed this.
"If I'm under contract with this village, there will be a deputy in this village because that money belongs to this village and the service I provide this village is their service," said Pickaway County Sheriff Robert Radcliff.
Council will vote August 4th on the proposal.