Preliminary discussions to consider expanding the Hartville Police Department have begun. The plan would be to offer police service to the parts of Lake Township currently served by the Stark County Sheriff's Department.
The matter was discussed during a Nov. 5 session of council and was an extension of a discussion that began at an Oct. 31 safety committee meeting.
Hartville Police Chief Larry Dordea believes the strong relationship between the village and the township would allow for an easy transition of services if plans were to move forward.
More importantly, Dordea believes Hartville is in a position to better serve parts of Lake Township and, specifically, Congress Lake.
"For the sheriff to come out to Congress Lake, they've got to come – lights and sirens – right through our village," Dordea said. "We could be sitting there running radar and watch a police cruiser come flying by with lights and sirens blaring. We could have gotten there a half an hour ahead of them, if we would have been called. Saving time saves lives."
Mayor Richard Currie notes that the discussion is preliminary and research is being done by village officials as to the feasibility of the plan from legal and fiscal standpoints.
To date, the village has not extended an offer of expanded police services to Lake Township Trustees. Currie was quick to note, however, that if and when a proposal is made trustees would have the final say as to whether or not plans move forward.
"We have no intention of imposing our will on the Lake Township Trustees," Currie said.
Expanding police services would require some initial investments on the part of the village and, likely, the township.
Dordea notes that the more immediate needs of the expanding department would include additional cruisers, at least eight additional officers and additional funding for training. He estimates that those things could cost around $900,000.
Ideally, Dordea said, the department also would have to find a new location with additional square-footage. The Hartville Police Department, located behind the village administrative offices, has already out-grown its space and is currently looking for a larger facility. If the department would expand, the need for more space would grow as well.
Dordea has no estimate of cost for any facility expansions and noted that the initial investment cost of $900,000 does not include facility upgrades.
Ensuring the funding of police department expansion is not something that would fall squarely on the shoulders of Hartville residents. If Lake Township residents receive police services they will have to help with supporting the department financially, Dordea said.
Currie believes that there are ways to ensure that expansion of police services is financially beneficial to both the village and township. In the end, however, Hartville is not looking to generate revenue with the move.
Page 2 of 2 - "We hope to break even," Currie said. "We are not a profit-making entity. At the same time, we wouldn't want to lose money, either."