Sugarcreek ends police coverage discussions with Franklin

From staff reports

Sugarcreek Borough Council members announced Wednesday that the borough has ended discussions with the City of Franklin regarding police coverage in the borough.

Council said in a press release that the borough received concrete figures from Franklin for contracting police services for the borough after council’s Feb. 7 meeting in which the matter was discussed in public for a second time.

“For now, all that needs to be said is that the anticipated price for the services in question is outside of our expectations, and we do not believe that a contract with Franklin for enhanced police coverage is in the interest of our citizens at this time,” the press release said.

The release goes on to say that Franklin and Sugarcreek have a longstanding cooperative relationship, and “we believe these discussions have not strained our relationship, but, instead, have mutually shown that both of our police departments have the ability to benefit each other through the sharing of experience and resources.”

The purpose of the talks between Sugarcreek and Franklin “was to review and evaluate all possible avenues to achieve better police coverage for our citizens,” according to the release.

Council members say that prior to their Jan. 3 council meeting, the public received word through sources separate from council that the borough had entered police discussions with Franklin.

Those sources indicated that council was “cutting” or “eliminating” the Sugarcreek police department entirely, and this message was conveyed to and quickly spread through the public and was not accurate, the release said.

As of Jan. 3, only two meetings had occurred between representatives of both municipalities, and those meetings were only for the purpose of gauging interest in a contract agreement, according to the release.

“We had not discussed any expected costs, numbers, time frames, schedules or anything other than Franklin’s interest in further discussions. As such, we could not answer every question the public posed to us with our limited information at the time, which, we understand, left people frustrated,” the release said.

The borough requested additional meetings with Franklin to help address some of the concerns and inquiries brought up at the Jan. 3 council meeting, and one more meeting with Franklin was held before the Feb. 7 council meeting where some of the issues were discussed.

“This gave us some idea of how to address general concerns, but we still did not receive concrete numbers for our February meeting,” the release said. “At the February meeting, we were met with tempered opposition, and we resolved to finally meet the continued demands for concrete figures.”

Council said in the press release “we want to thank the City of Franklin for engaging in this discussion with us. We want to thank the citizens of the borough for expressing your concerns and your frustrations. More so, we wish to applaud your unyielding support for your police department.”

And council also said “we would especially like to thank the Sugarcreek Borough Police Department for continuing to provide stellar services to our community, even in the midst of this tumult and uncertainty. Our officers have shown excellence in the performance of their duties, and their presence and commitment is truly a blessing to our local community.”

The release is signed by Mayor Matthew Carlson, council president James Speth and council members Howard Barger, Larry Baughman, Bogan Goughler and Alan Heller.