CLEVES, Ohio — The Village of Cleves Council voted 5-1 to disband its police department Tuesday night, opting instead to contract with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office for police services.
#BREAKING: Cleves council votes 5-1 to disband its police department. The village will now contract with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office starting October 5th.— Kristen Swilley (@KristenSwilley) September 29, 2020
The village began considering contracting with the sheriff’s office earlier this month as both a cost-saving measure and because the department has had difficulty retaining officers.
The village council said if the police department is disbanded, their current station could house a substation for the Hamilton County Sheriff’s office and current officers would likely be absorbed.
It was a contentious meeting Tuesday, where emotions ran high. Cleves residents expressed concern about potentially slower response times and losing officers who know the community.
"As a representative of the community, I do think we need to take into account the community wants to keep their police department,” said council member Geri Meister at the meeting Tuesday night.
In the end, residents like Holly Lepolt left Tuesday’s meeting unhappy.
"It seemed like a community and it seems like slowly, piece by piece, things are just picking away,” she said. “I think this would probably be the last straw."
Mayor Stephen Myers knows the choice is unpopular.
"But it's one I think we needed to make to save our budget fiscally,” he said.
The village hopes to save $300,000 next year with the change. Myers said the department was dwindling and the county may be better suited to the village's needs.
“With the sheriff's department, I believe the training level is higher, the equipment is better. We don't have body cameras. So, they bring a lot to the table,” he said.
Meister said she herself was not in favor of disbanding Cleves PD without more information on what the contract with the county sheriff’s office would entail.
“I’m disgusted with the way this process played out," said Meister.
Many Cleves residents at the meeting would have preferred the issue go to a vote this November.
"That is really all we want, everyone to have a say so in the end it's what the residents want,” said Lepolt. “It's not what the council wants. It's not what the administrator wants. It's about public safety for us."
The HCSO takes over in Cleves Monday, and the current Cleves officers will have the option to join the sheriff's department.