In 2012, the Butler Township police force was reduced to 11 officers, down from 15 two years before. During the same time period two police chiefs had retired. To support the police department expenses, the general fund was being tapped for over $300,000 per year. Monies from the State of Ohio and property taxes were declining while policing demands of the Miller Lane area, especially the Walmart, were increasing. During 2012, two police levies narrowly failed. The failure of these levies appears to have been caused by the reluctance of residents to pay more taxes during a tight economy combined with a perception that community policing had suffered because the reduced number of officers were devoting too much time to Miller Lane businesses.
In 2012, Police Chief Cresie said, “When you have a community department, it’s involved in the community. It’s more than just keeping the community safe.” Beginning in 2012, Chief Cresie was able to increase the number of officers to 18 with the increased revenue from JEDZ funds. Community policing activities, including neighborhood watches, were expanded and township residents seemed to be happy and supportive of the police. Furthermore, the addition of officers, including K-9 Zorro, allowed better coverage of Miller Lane which pleased business owners.
Where are we now? Our new trustee, Mr. Flanagan, has informed us that the current and projected township revenues will be inadequate to fund budget needs and changes will be necessary. His initial steps have resulted in the resignations of both the township administrator and police chief, both of which have added expense to the township. Trustees Flanagan and Brusky have hired Montgomery County Chief Deputy Sheriff Streck to lead the police force on an interim, part-time basis. They say they continue to look at retaining the Sheriff’s Department as a cost effective alternative to having a township force since projected income will result in a 3 or 4 officer reduction by 2018. The township treasurer stated at the last trustee meeting that hiring the Sheriff’s Department had been explored in 2012 with the conclusion that no cost savings would result. It is hard to imagine what could have changed to make this situation any different today.
Township residents as well as Miller Lane business owners have expressed satisfaction with the police force at Trustee meetings. At the last meeting, Chief Deputy Streck was asked by a concerned citizen to state if he had uncovered any problems in the department. He responded that he had found some internal issues that were addressed with some procedure and policy changes, but overall the officers and their policing were in good order.
The citizens of Butler Township are happy with their excellent police department. Trustees Flanagan and Brusky have presented no data indicating that a cost saving can be achieved by hiring the Sheriff’s Department. Trustees need to start listening to the residents, give their support to the Butler Township Police Department, hire a new chief, and only then place a levy on the ballot if it is necessary to continue the high level of service being supplied by our township police.
Brad & Christine Hawley