August 22, 2014

Elyria
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Sheffield Township enters agreement with Sheriff’s Office

SHEFFIELD TWP. — A new crime-fighting agreement with the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office will increase coverage of the community despite a decrease in deputies.

The six-month pilot program, which begins Aug. 15, will pay off-duty deputies to spend 32 hours a month in the township. The office laid off 20 deputies and two captains in 2009 after its annual budget was cut from about $6.3 million to the current $5.2 million.

“We’ve been kind of devastated in that area,” Sheriff Phil Stammitti said during Tuesday’s announcement of the agreement during annual anti-crime Night Out ceremonies at St. Lad’s picnic grounds in Lorain. “I applaud the township on picking up some of this patrol. This is for everyone’s safety.”

The agreement is the fourth with area townships. Columbia Township’s began in the early 1980s. New Russia’s began in 2008 while Eaton Township’s began in 2009.

The agreement will cost up to $1,300 per month and come out of the township’s $972,000 general fund, said Patricia Echko, township fiscal officer. Fifty percent of revenue from any citations or tickets issued by the deputies while working the off-duty assignments will go to the township helping to cover the agreement costs. Deputies earn up to $26.60 per hour, said Capt. James Drozdowski, who is overseeing the agreement for the office.

Drozdowski said the deputies will be used for routine patrols, targeted enforcement and for security at special events. Statistical analysis will be used to gauge the effect of the agreement on reducing crime and response times to incidents. The office, which has 43 deputies, usually has three or four on patrol per shift covering the 357 square miles of the county.

“Our guys know where the trouble areas are, and they stay pretty close to those areas,” Drozdowski said. “They give the residents good service, but we’d do a lot better if we ever got our manpower back to the staff that we need.”

Trustee Chad Parsons said the agreement was in response to resident concerns about break-ins, running of red lights and speeding. Parsons is optimistic the agreement will be extended after the scheduled expiration in February.

“More hours, more road patrols and more deputies. You never know,” he said. “It’s a win-win situation.”

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.