Levy could pay for one more Butler police officer

BUTLER – Village officials are making an attempt to reinforce assets at the Butler Police Department.

There will be a two-mill levy on the November election ballot, which will go to the department. Police Chief Bob Fry said it is hoped there could be one more police officer, “or maybe more.”

He also said the department needs to replace some equipment.

Currently, Fry is police chief and police force.

“I’m it,” he said.

He does the job by working a flexible schedule, he said. If there are “call outs” he goes when they occur. If he is not available, he receives back up from the Richland County Sheriff’s Department.

When something happens that needs to be investigated, cases get “kicked back to me,” he said.

Fry said Butler doesn’t get increased police activity as a result of the development in Bellville. There is truck traffic, he said.

If a criminal offense occurs, it is “local anyhow,” he said.

The opioid crisis has affected Butler, Fry said. The village has had two overdoses so far this year, he said.

The village has several negative items to consider, Fry said.

The Police Department doesn’t have access to Narcan, which is used when an officer sees that someone is having an overdose. Some villages have been able to get access to that through a grant.

Fry said he is looking at finding a grant for that purpose.

Money from the levy, which would be 20 cents per $100 of valuation on a house per month for a property owner, would also be used for equipment, Fry said.

The village has two cruisers, but both are eight years old. When they need repairs it can be difficult, he said.

The village also would like to acquire MTDs, which are in-car computers. Many police forces use such pieces of equipment, but Butler has not been able to proceed with that.

This means when Fry has to work on a case, he has to write a report, then go in to the office to complete the task.

Access to more money would “increase efficiency,” he said. “Something needs to be done.”

Fry said council members and the mayor all decided the village should ask for the levy.

He said people don’t know Butler is the lowest-taxed municipality in Richland County. Butler police officers have been paid the lowest amount in law enforcement in the area, Fry said.

One of the problems for a village in such a position is to “attract and retain” qualified people in law enforcement.

Fry has been police chief since March 23. The previous chief was Brian Darby.

Police department also needs equipment

By Louise Swartzwalder

Bellville Star