Should the Sheriff’s Department Patrol Our Townships?
Written by Brian Massie, resident of Concord Township
July 27, 2021
We would to thank Sheriff Frank Leonbruno for permitting the Prosecutor’s office to release the following memorandum defining the duties of the Sheriff’s Department relating to Townships within Lake County.
While attending the Lake County Commissioners’ meetings, and speaking directly with Concord Township Trustee, Carl Dondorfer, we are aware that there have been discussions about adding Deputy Sheriffs to increase the ability to patrol the Townships in the County.
There is a misunderstanding in the community (this writer included) with the Sheriff’s street patrol duties required by the Ohio Revised Code. The ORC requires the Sheriff to only respond to calls and not patrol the streets.
From page 3 of the July 8, 2005 memorandum below: “[the language of the statute] allows the sheriff to perform as little or as much as he deems necessary, or capable of, at his discretion, within the budget available, in the function of preserving the public peace…”
From page 2, the Ohio Supreme Court held in 1932 that “the mandate to ‘preserve the peace’ does not require that a sheriff patrol his county as a policeman or ferret out crime as a detective.”
There are on-going discussions between the County and the Townships under contract with the Sheriff’s Department to share in the cost of adding new Deputies for a period of four years. After that time, the entire cost of the new Deputies would be borne by the Townships.
This writer concludes that the Lake County Commissioners are not obligated under the ORC to pay for the costs of the Sheriff’s Department patrolling the Townships. The Township may, at their discretion, enter into a contract with the Sheriff’s Department to pay for the patrol services they deem necessary, or which may be permitted by their budget constraints.
Currently, the average annual costs for a Deputy Sheriff to patrol the Township’s roads are $100,000 – $125,000.
A Township may choose not to have a contractual relationship with the County Sheriff; and therefore, will accept the Sheriff’s obligatory actions of only responding to calls. However, the Township has the option of establishing their own Police Department as we find in Madison Township.
It is our belief that if law enforcement is not patrolling the streets, evil will find its way into the community. Township residents must decide how much policing they want in their community, and are they willing to pay for that service. We find it grossly unfair if communities expect other communities to pay for their services.
Some may argue that State funding should be used to offset patrol costs. The local government fund allocation of State funding, using a decades old formula, needs to be reviewed and changes may need to be made since the old formula does not reflect the population changes that have taken place in Lake County. We will be researching the local government funds, and will write about our findings.