Is a police district the answer for Thorn Township?
THORNVILLE- A frightening incident in Thornville last week may illustrate the need for increased police protection.
About 11:30 p.m. January 8, according to incident reports from the Licking County and Perry Councy Sheriff's offices,officers were requested for an active domestic dispute on Columbus Street. Officers were advised that a man with a handgun was chasing a woman east on Columbus Street toward the Thornville-Thorn Township Fire Department.
Perry County requested assistance from Licking County and two Licking County deputies were dispatched to Thornville at 11:40 p.m. The first Licking County deputy arrived at 11:52 p.m. followed quickly by the second Licking County deputy and a Perry County deputy.
The wife sought protection at the Thornville Fire Department until Licking County deputies arrived. The Licking County deputies were called to assist because the Perry County deputy was many miles away and no Thornville officerswere on duty. Thornville is currently looking for a full-time police chief and expects to hire someone into the position by mid-February. Its department is currently staffed by several auxiliaries.
Deputies discovered that a 45 caliber handgun had been fired several times in the home. A sawed off shotgun, a Russian rifleand ammunition were also found on a bed in the master bedroom. Aaron D. Grimm of Thornville was wrestled to the ground in his front yard by deputies. He has been charged with two felonies and three misdemeanors including resisting arrest. There were no injuries.
Thorn Township Trustee Tim Phipps said he's aware of the incident. "They (Thornville) have a police department so these situations may still occur, however our community would be better prepared to deal with them if there were other law enforcement available for assistance," he said. "I do believe that our residents feel vulnerable due to the lack of coverage in the past." This is why, said Phipps, the township is working on an affordable and effective means to provide additional community police coverage. "Incidents like these show a need for better law enforcement in our township whether it comes from the sheriff's department or our own sources," he said.
Phipps said the township has worked with the Perry County Sheriff's Department on this issue, which has provided a fulltime officer"to our area." He said a deputy was able to respond to a robbery in progress and make an arrest. "By the presence of law officers, I'm sure they've deterred others," said Phipps. But, "As with any other public safety service, the limits are set by how much we can afford."
Phipps said the township currently has no police budget and no way to support a township department in the long term. "We've been very hesitant to ask for any new taxes to fund additional law enforcement, however if we going to add coverage we will have to fund it through tax dollars."
Phipps said the trustees are leaving their options open, including a Thorn Township Police District or possible outside contracts to provide police coverage on a more permanent basis, depending, of course, upon what can be afforded.
Obviously, said Phipps, the township is already paying for protection from the sheriff's department. "However, with the existing financial constraints of the county we are in a position of providing some assistance if we want to provide additional coverage in our community," he said.