Debate Over How to Pay for More South Point Police Officers

SOUTH POINT, Ohio (WSAZ) -- A tense debate is stirring in South Point, Ohio.

The police department said it needs more money for officers to battle increasing crimes like break-ins, thefts and drugs.

People in several South Point neighborhoods have been hit by burglars since April.

But some village leaders are hesitant to add taxes and said adding a municipal fee isn't possible.

Eric Fields knows about crime problems in South Point.

He said, this week, a suspicious man lurked at his home while his wife was alone.

"He had come in here and he was looking, looking at the windows, looked at the shutters, got to this point, she said he had his hands up here, the dog started barking," Fields said.

So his wife called 911 and waited.

"I don't know if they'd gotten busy or what, but by the time I got home later in the evening, nobody had still showed up," Fields said.

South Point Police said they generally have one officer on duty.

Village leaders said only one is full time and the four others are part time.

"It's a cry for help, when it gets to the point with one person on a shift, when you add in the officer safety, you add in effective investigations, one officer can't do it," said South Point Police Chief Chris Majher.

The Police Chief said increasing crime and drug trends means they need money.

The department is asking for a $10 a month municipal fee, to hire three officers and give insurance to current ones.

"We've done everything we possibly can to try to do with the minimal amount that we have," Majher said.

"There's no possible way under the Ohio Revised Code that we could put a $10 fee," South Point Mayor Ron West said.

The mayor said the only options are adding an income tax, which he's firmly against, or a 3.5 mil tax levy.

"I think it's unfair if you live in Huntington and come over here and work, to have to pay a tax to support us," West said.

"I would be willing to give up $10 a month to have more sheriff's patrolling, and making the place safer," Majher said.

For now, people like Fields are securing their homes and police are stuck working with what they have.

WSAZ.com has learned at least one post about the fee on the police department's Facebook page was removed at the request of village leaders.

South Point Police said the entire page will soon be shut down.

Village leaders are set to take up the funding issue at a council meeting, which is open to the public. That meeting takes place July 1 at the Village Hall.


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