BUTLER TWP. – The Butler Township Trustees, Fiscal Officer and its new Police Chief, John Porter, were unanimous in thanking voters for approving the township’s police levy on Monday night.
“I have great gratitude for the citizens of Butler Township,” said Fiscal Officer Mark Adams. “This is a real life-saver for the township.”
Trustee Mike Lang noted that the funds will put the police department “in the black for the first time in decades.”
Issue 44, which passed with nearly 57% of the vote, will generate nearly $750,000 annually which is designated solely for police services. It will eliminate an annual transfer from the township’s general fund that at times neared $400,000 and could possibly free funds from the Joint Economic Development Zones that had been earmarked for police services in the future.
Police Chief John Porter said the passage of the levy will directly lead to more officers in the street in 2017. Porter said that two positions that have not been filled in an effort to reduce the department’s 201 budget will be filled.
“We will fill those positions effective January 1,” said Porter. “We will be looking for officers with experience. It will take a while to get the positions filled due to the application process, background check, but we are jumping on that and getting started right away. Hopefully by March you will see extra bodies and extra cars on the street.”
“The residents choose the level of service they want and they chose to have a fully staffed police department,” said Trustee Nick Brusky. “My biggest thing is to get more officers on the street.”
Porter said that the department is aware of concerns with panhandlers and drug activity in the township, especially in the Miller Lane area and is beginning to deal with them.
“We are really going to be working on and addressing those issues,” he said.
Another issue the levy passage addresses is uncertainty in the department. Porter said that he was concerned that had the levy failed, several officers would have left the department.
“I really believe about the only applicants I would have gotten at that point would have had very little experience,” he said. “You really have to have a balance of experience and rookies in an agency.
“We will attract a higher level of candidate because they know the department is solvent and because we have a proven leader at the helm,” said Lang.
The department’s officers were thrilled with the result and grateful for the community’s support.
“They are ecstatic and happy to be here,” Porter said. “This is where they want to be, this is the job they chose to work at, and they are happy they don’t have to leave.”
During the public comment portion of the meeting, resident Christine Hawley told the trustees that she was pleased with the levy’s passage.
“I wanted to tell you how happy I am that the police levy passed,” she said “It is a great relief that it passed and passed with a good margin.”
Porter had a clear and unequivocal message for residents, police officers, and potential wrongdoers.
“We are here to stay. The Butler Township Police Department will not be going away. It is a permanent fixture here.”
—Reach Darrell Wacker at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.