I am asking for support for the police levy on Nov. 8. I would like to share some information and thoughts with you about this issue.
Your police department is currently staffed by only 11 full-time officers. When I was hired at the department in 1979, there were 21 of us. When I retired as police chief, we were down to 16 officers. Remember, this is an operation that must be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I can tell you that this is not sustainable with only 11 officers.
How did this happen? Was money wasted? I can promise you that is not the case. A combination of things have caused this crisis. Certainly some costs have gone up, chiefly health insurance premiums, but this is not the main cause. Two other things have been far worse for us.
Our governor promised to balance the state budget and restore our rainy day fund. He has done that. Unfortunately, one of the ways he did it was to shut off the flow of tax dollars to municipalities like Gallipolis.
The other problem is one we all are too familiar with. We have an epidemic of opiate abuse and addiction in our area. Addicts chiefly finance their habit by stealing. Our officers are making more arrests and, consequently, more people are jailed and the jails are full. We are hauling prisoners all over the southern half of Ohio just to find jail space. The monetary cost is bad, but by driving these prisoners to places like Morrow County and Butler County, we are eating up man hours, burning gas and putting wear and tear on our cruisers.
No one is more worried about this situation than the officers who serve you. Why? Because it takes away from their primary mission of serving and protecting us. That being said, I can tell you they have done a stellar job so far of keeping the violence, prostitution and street crime that inevitably accompanies the heroin problem, at bay. But I am concerned because, as I already said, they cannot sustain this with only 11 officers.
You should also know that if you are receiving Social Security or a pension, it will not be taxed. This tax is only on earned income, such as salaries. The other thing that is important to know is that the revenue from this tax goes into a separate account and can only be used for the police department. No future city administration can take these funds and use them for something else.
We are fortunate to have an efficient full-service police department here. I am confident that if you have ever had to call them, they have responded promptly and have done their best to help you. I want that service to continue for all of us, especially our vulnerable senior citizens.
Please join me in voting to support our police.
Roger Brandeberry is a retired chief of police for the Gallipolis Police Department and current Gallipolis city commissioner.