Defiance exploring eliminating city police department

Definance police patch

DEFIANCE (13abc, Action News) – It is an idea that has been kicking around for a while. So the new mayor proposed a plan to fold the city police department into the sheriff’s office.

Naturally, it’s running into some strong reaction.

It started on Facebook over the weekend. Many people thought it was an April Fool’s joke.

One person wrote: “It’s hard to believe with the size of Defiance not having a police department.”

Another person posted: “That would be the stupidest thing any mayor could do.”

On the street today, more concern about the idea.

Donna Bailey says, “I just think it will overtax the sheriff’s department.”

Herb Delventhal told 13abc, “I think they need to have two separate departments here.”

The Defiance city administrator admits the city wants to study the idea.

Defiance needs to cut costs and save money.

The city has explored creating a regional fire operation and water service but both ideas went no where.

Now, the city is exploring what to do with police.

Jeff Leonard, the city administrator says, “I think that if you can provide equal amount of service and you can save money, then I think it can be a go.”

But before it’s a ‘go’ there are questions about how many in the department could lose their jobs. And how much money could be saved. And would Defiance have to change its criminal law.

Shop owners worry about crime and having a local police force close by is a relief.

Connie Gruenhagen has had to call police a couple times. When asked if county-wide law enforcement run by the sheriff’s office would be as quick to respond, she says, “I don’t know how to answer that. I really don’t know.”

An that’s part of the concern.

Sam Cabral, the president of the International Union of Police Associations told 13abc reporter Bill Hormann, “If you want efficiencies then why don’t you run the city more efficiently.”

The mayor may argue that’s what he’s trying to do.

He will tell council about his idea at a meeting Tuesday at 7-p-m.

Residents and police will watch this process very closely. One source told 13abc he thinks it could take at least a year to make a decision.