In 2008, there were just over 1 million police officers in the U.S. That number has diminished by 7% since the Great Recession as sharply decreased revenues have forced towns all over the U.S. to make very difficult decisions about budget cuts, layoffs, and even closures of police departments (Schoen, 2013, paragraph 5). Despite the economic struggle, one Ohio town hopes to refocus its energy on public safety.
“[Residents] didn’t like the idea when [the police] left” (Armon, 2017, paragraph 25), says Amin Abraham, a resident and business owner in Lakemore, OH, a town that has recently reopened its police department after almost eight years.
The department was disbanded after Lakemore was labeled “in-auditable” by the state and placed under “fiscal emergency;” two titles the town has taken nearly eight years to shed. It was revealed that in 2008 the city spent $750,000 on the eight full time and five part time officers that made up the police department.
Lakemore officially closed its police department in 2009 after the financial crisis led government officials to sign a contract with Springfield, OH, to share their police force as a way to save money.
Now, almost a decade after Lakemore’s police department closed, the town’s leaders believe they have a new solution. The Lakemore Police Department can reopen for less money than it would cost to renew the contract with Springfield. The new Lakemore department would consist of 10 officers rather than 13, and would be run on a budget of less than $500,000.
Ken Ray had served as police chief of Lakemore for five years when the decision was made to disband. Now he is being reinstated as chief along with two sergeants who had worked on the force prior to the 2009 closure. He and his fellow officers have plenty of community service experience and are excited to get back to work.
“Our police force will be more visible and more accessible,” (Armon, 2017, paragraph 4) says Mayor Rick Justice. The reopened department will focus more on local issues rather than the Springfield department.
“Lakemore residents prefer when officers can spend time with them and talk…This is the kind of community where they expect that,” (Armon, 2017, paragraph 26-27) says Abraham. With only 3,060 residents, the small town of Lakemore, appreciates the personal touch of having its own police force.
For more information on this topic, please read “Lakemore Reviving Its Police Department.” You can also find further information on the effects of police department closures by reading, “Thinning Blue Line: Police Cuts Cripple Cities.”
Armon, R. (2017, May 28). Lakemore Reviving Its Police Department. Akron Beacon Journal/Ohio.com. Retrieved from http://www.ohio.com/news/local/lakemore-reviving-its-police-department-1.770371
Schoen, J.W. (2013, November 22). Thinning Blue Line: Police Cuts Cripple Cities. CNBC. Retrieved from http://www.cnbc.com/2013/11/22/broken-city-fixes-start-with-public-safety.html