In the last five years, no department of Village government has orchestrated as much change as the Village police department. Much like the fire department, your police department provides many more valuable services than can be seen daily by residents. In addition to the patrols you see on the streets, the police department provides many other services including all 911 dispatch, a wide variety special situation services (e.g. SWAT, etc. – see list below), and safety promotion services such as safety town for young children.
Nine years ago in 2007 the village police department recognized the need to provide a wide range of safety services beyond traditional police patrolling. To provide our residents with these services they formed the first council of governments; the Valley Enforcement Group Regional Council of Governments (VEG). The VEG functions much like the fire department’s regionalized hazardous materials and rescue group. VEG provides to the village:
1. SWAT team to respond to special situations, this SWAT team has an armored vehicle together with a mobile command center;
2. A specially trained hostage negotiations team;
3. Major traffic Accident Investigation Unit which assumes the responsibility for traffic accidents that result in death or serious physical injury;
4. A criminal investigation unit;
5. Child Abduction Response Team to provide quick response to reports of a child being abducted;
6. Continuing education together with specialized training and;
7. Fire arms training and qualification.
This basket of services costs the village $7,000 per year or a $1.20 per resident per year.
Prior to 2014 the Village maintained a small regional dispatch center (where your 911 calls are answered) that was located within the village police department. In response to evolving requirements and demands, the village in 2013 formed a second council of governments to take over the dispatch function and to share the cost of facility and required equipment upgrades on a wider basis. This council of governments is today composed of 15 governmental authorities. Today this dispatch center is located in the basement of Bedford Hospital. University Hospitals has leased these facilities to the council of governments for a $1.00 per year. As a regionalized council of governments we have shared the $1,330,000 costs of required capital equipment, upgrades and facility remodeling with the other communities. Your village’s share of this capital expense was $139,000, and results in the village saving hundreds of thousands of dollar in comparison to what it would have spent if the dispatch function was kept as a regional small dispatch center. The end result of forming this council of is governments is that the village gets a state of the art dispatch center which is fully compliant with all state requirements while reducing the village annual dispatch operating cost by $25,000. The village’s projected annual dispatch center costs are approximately $180,000. This equates to $42.86 per resident per year or $0.82 per week for processing all police and fire 911 calls.
The traditional policing function includes safety promotion in addition to the patrolling that you see every day. Safety promotion includes the running of the annual Safety Town, Bike Rodeo for younger children and the Your Life Your Choice program for teenagers.
1. Safety Town is geared for the children just entering kindergarten and is a two week program given for 2 hours per day. It teaches children basic street safety, bike safety, how to call 911, how to respond to strangers. In addition, together with the fire department, they operate a fire trailer where the children are taught how to best survive a house fire and respond to their clothing catching fire.
2. The Bike Rodeo is geared toward older children and focuses on a bike safety inspection, minor bike repair, bike handling course and review of bike safety laws. It also includes a ride around town with the Chagrin and South Russell bike patrol officers
3. Your Life Your Choice program is usually presented at Prom time and focuses on the issues of alcohol and drug usage and impaired driving. Last year’s program was given in conjunction with the Geauga Sheriff’s department to the Chagrin Falls High School and surrounding communities over 1,500 students participated.
These safety promotion efforts did not cost any tax dollars. The cost of these programs was provided by private donations, the Jaycees, and proceeds from the annual Chili cook off.
The patrolling function of the village is provided by 11 full time officers and 8 permanent part time officers or on total hours worked basis 12.3 full time patrol officers’ equivalents. These 12.3 officers provide 24/7 protection to you every day of the year. How do the village police department’s employment levels compare to surrounding communities on a policeman per resident basis, the village has one patrol officer for every 338 residents. An equivalent measure for surrounding communities varies from a low of 214 to a high of 379. Perhaps a more meaningful measure of the demand on our department’s available time is the dispatch calls per officer. In 2015 Village had 828 dispatch calls per officer. Surrounding communities’ calls per officer varied from a high of 695 to a low of 325. Our officers answered 20% more calls than the next highest area community. In addition to dispatch calls, our officers made 1,768 traffic stops. I have been asked why we need 2 patrolmen on the street at night, the answer is officer safety and not leaving the village unprotected while an officer transports a DUI arrest for instance to Solon jail. I need to point out clearly and strongly that 37% of our total dispatch calls are at night. Many night dispatch calls may involve alcohol, drugs or domestic disputes. These are among the most volatile situations for an officer to handle and potentially may turn violent. Officer safety demands 2 officers are dispatched to these calls. Our practice of having 2 officers on duty at night is prudent for both officer and resident safety, and justified by the dispatch call volume/work load.
What does the patrolling function of our police department cost? In total, $1,600,000.00 or $381.00 per resident per year or $7.35 per week; about the cost of eating a meal at McDonalds.
The total cost of providing you with all police patrolling, safety promotion and dispatch function is $8.20 per resident per week.
Mayor Bill Tomko