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Citizens tell village council keep local police, avoid ballot

June 22, 2011 - An outpouring of public support and praise for the Oxford Village Police Department occurred at last week's council meeting as officials continued discussions concerning the future of local law enforcement services and whether or not to place a question regarding them on the ballot.

"Over the years I've had numerous contacts with the police department, both good and bad, but overall I'm very pleased with them and I hope that by all means, we can keep our police department," said village resident Merle Smith.

"The police department over these years has been kind and courteous," said Kathy Hummel, a 37-year resident of the village. "When you call them, they're there. They are willing to do anything to protect you. They watch my house (when I leave for vacations)."

Village officials have been seeking public input as they explore the possibility of outsourcing police and dispatch services as a potential cost-saving measure and giving voters a say in the matter via the ballot.

Of the seven people who spoke at council meeting – three of which were former council members – all supported keeping the local department.

"I have absolutely no problem with our police department," said Joe Bullen, a former longtime council member and village president. "I've had some really good service from some of our people that are on our force."

"We have some excellent people, folks. Be careful before you ditch them," Bullen warned.

"I have observed the police department. They are second to none. Very courteous," said village resident Elgin Nichols.

"We've had to use the police department on a couple occasions. They answered expeditiously," said village resident Robert Scott. "Don't ask for something that you're gonna regret."

Police Chief Mike Neymanowski indicated he was very grateful for all the kinds words.

"I think I'm just overwhelmed right now," he said. "I just appreciate the comments."

Some of those who spoke were opposed to the idea of placing a question about police services on the ballot.

"I don't want it on the ballot," said Sue Bossardet, an ex-council member and former village president. "I want our own police department. I want our own dispatch service."

Former council member John DuVal expressed his concern that putting the issue on the ballot will create the impression that there is some "unidentified force – that doesn't even exist – that is advocating for the notion that we should go outside, potentially, of our current (police/dispatch) setup that we have right now."

"My fear is this, if you go out to the public with a ballot issue . . . the public is going to interpret that as there is reason why it's there," DuVal explained. "They are going to look at that and perceive that as there is an entity, undetermined, that is pushing this. That's usually the case."

Such a ballot question comes with the "assumption" that "there is a party advocating for this and there is a party defending this," DuVal noted.

"I would not like to see this go on the ballot," Nichols said. "There are certain interests and some people don't know what it's all about. I'd hate to see it on the ballot. I think that you people are very knowledgable about what is going on. You take the proper input to help make the decisions. I certainly would endorse keeping the police force."

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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