By jeanne starmack
As three communities consider a police-force consolidation, their police chiefs weighed in on how difficult it would be to coordinate call-response times.
A study on forming a district that includes Hubbard, Hubbard Township and Brookfield is expected to be final in October. The Youngstown State University Center for Urban and Regional Studies outlined what the communities must consider before deciding if a joint district would save money but not affect safety.
Those considerations include union contracts, different pay schedules, and the fact that the city of Hubbard funds its police through an income tax rather than levies, as the townships do. By state law, a police district has to be funded by a levy, YSU study team representatives told community leaders at a meeting earlier this month.
As of 2012, the three communities’ police expenditures totaled nearly $3.4 million.
They have a combined total of 30 full-time and 33 part-time employees.
A key factor in response times is the location of the joint district’s station, said Jim Taafe, Hubbard city’s police chief.
“They didn’t say where the new station would be,” he said. “It seemed to me they were pointing toward us and Brookfield as the ones who stay open. Response times wouldn’t change then because we’re centrally in Hubbard and Hubbard Township.”
“Brookfield is out there and is the question,” he said.
“We haven’t even got that far,” said Brookfield Chief Dan Faustino, adding that there haven’t been discussions on where a station would be or if they’d have to build a new one.
“We would end up determining where the majority of calls take place and work it out from there,” he said.
Faustino said the whole idea of a joint force is stalled because of a question about whether Hubbard city residents would be in favor of police funding through a levy instead of their income tax.
In Hubbard Township, Chief Todd Coonce said the communities couldn’t form a joint district unless the service stayed the same or was better.
“Officers would be staged in certain areas,” he said. “You look at response times now, and they shouldn’t change that much.”