2007-05-12 / Editorials & Letters

Another Letter: Sheriff responds to service complaints

Editor:

In the April 7th and 14th , 2007 issues of your paper Perry County Commissioner Thad Cooperider provided information at the March 28th 2007 council meeting stating that Thornville and Thorn Township residents pay the most taxes in the county, yet are the last to be served by the sheriff's department.

First I would like to clarify that I am an elected official, an officeholder, not appointed. The position I hold is that of an officerholder not a department head. I answer directly to the voters of Perry County, not to a department head or an officemanager. I make myself available to individuals, groups, or organizations to answer questions, concerns, or issues they may have with the affairs of my office.I strongly urge citizens to contact me with complaints; you are the primary source of information to me when things are not being handled appropriately. It is my duty to see that members of my officeserve the public in the best manner possible.

In regards to the residents of Thornville and Thorn Township being the last to be served, I can only offer what the officerecords reveal. The Sheriff's Officehas a computerized records system that enables us the ability to check all fourteen townships in Perry County to determine what activity and service levels have occurred within a given township for only those calls of which we have received a complaint or call requiring a law enforcement action. In a search of the Ohio Incident Based Reporting System, years 2005, 2006, and to present 2007, Thorn Township is the second highest township, second to Pike Township, served by the sheriff's office.Thorn Township is far from being the last to be served by the sheriff's office.The records show the average calls handled by this officein Thorn Township is 14 %. This includes any call in Thornville and Thorn Township. The Thornville Police Department maintains records for Thornville, the only records I would have is if the village police were not available to handle the call and a deputy was dispatched.

As far as Thornville and Thorn Township residents paying the highest taxes, my officedoes not maintain records to verify that statement. I would however like to comment that we are not about servicing those who pay more. Calls are prioritized based upon their urgency; this may cause long delays when responding to calls with a limited staff. The locations of our calls are driven by the location of the scene. We are not selective to the area of which we respond. The average calls per day for 2005 is 14.5, for 2006 is 11.79, and so far in 2007 it is 10.5 calls daily. If handling calls was our only duty or if we had additional deputies we would have a more favorable response.

The pre-recorded message from a cell phone to 911 to the Perry County Sheriff's Officeis a problem only resolved by the individual's cell phone carrier or service provider. If you call 911 on a cell phone it will ring to our seven digit phone line which does have a recording on it. The very first prompt tells the caller that if this is a medical emergency, to report a crime, a traffic crash, or if you have a question, press 0 and a dispatcher will be with you momentarily. To fixthe 911 call issue on a cell phone it must be directed to your provider and see if they can remedy why the call is not being forwarded to the 911 line at my officewhere a dispatcher will answer your call, not a recording.

If your regular phone errors when you call 911 and ring in on our seven digit number then you need to call my officeand your problem can be addressed at the Sheriff's Officeby an employee designated to handle phone routing errors. Further, if you have a concern that your phone will not ring in on 911 just call us ahead and we can test it for you to verify your personal information is accurately entered into the 911 system.

In closing, I have provided this information to the Perry County Board of Commissioners for their review and consideration. To my knowledge this information has not been requested by the Commissioners Office and I would like to know what source of information Commissioner Cooperider has based his comments concerning my office.I understand there are times when all elected officials field concerns about the affairs of another's officeand once again encourage individuals with complaints to contact my office. William R. Barker Perry County Sheriff

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