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Peninsula Village Council discusses police contract with Boston

10/17/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Julia Kazar

Peninsula Village Council members and Police Chief Joe Varga discussed the police contract with Boston Township at the Oct. 14 council meeting.

Boston contracts with the Peninsula Police Department for police service, and Boston trustees recently discovered that several shifts had not been covered dating back to at least this past November.

Varga, who was hired as chief in late August, and Peninsula Mayor Doug Mayer said the reason behind the lack of coverage was not having one set schedule and the department lacked a police chief at the time to ensure all shifts were adequately staffed.

In September, the Boston trustees agreed to withhold some of the payment due to the Peninsula Police Department to make up for hours not previously covered.

Anderson told Council members at the Peninsula Council meeting that he, along with Councilman Doug Anderson and Mayer, had met with a representative from Boston to go over the contract and make any necessary changes to ensure this problem doesn’t happen again.

In reviewing the contract, Anderson said there were several issues found, including a 5 percent increase in salaries that was to take place each year the contract was renewed, which never happened, and extra shifts that were never charged an overtime rate.

“I’d also like to point out that 90 percent of calls come from the township,” Anderson said. “So a great deal of our police officer’s time is being devoted to Boston.”

When asked what criteria were looked at when trustees decided to withhold pay, Varga said he presented the trustees with a log of how many hours were staffed and unstaffed in previous months. He said that was the only information he was asked to provide.

“If they had looked at calls coming into the station and what officers were responding to, I can almost guarantee they had more coverage than we did at those times,” said Councilman Brian Schall. “Just look at the numbers.”

Councilwoman Dee Holody added it was more likely Peninsula was left unprotected at those times because the officer on duty was handling more incidents in Boston.

Anderson informed Council he is going to meet with the trustees again in the coming weeks to discuss the contract and move forward from there.

According to Anderson, there are four options for trustees to consider. First, they can keep the contract as it is, with all the pay increase and scheduling issues worked out, and renew the contract. They can slightly up their coverage so they are covered during what Anderson calls “prime hours,” weekends and late nights, when most calls tend to come in, but will have to pay a little more. They can opt for 24 hours a day, seven days a week service that would be more costly but ensure that shifts are always covered. Or, they can decline to sign a contract with Peninsula and find a new option for police service.

“It wouldn’t be the end of the world if they decided not to work with us anymore,” Anderson said. “We would still be OK, still be able to operate and provide all the services we do now for the Peninsula residents.”

In other business, Council:

  • set the date and time for trick-or-treating to take place Oct. 31 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. throughout the village. Council members also unanimously approved extra police protection for the cemetery on Halloween night;
  • approved the hiring of Alan Jones as a part-time police officer with a vote of 6-0; and
  • approved a salt contract with Boston Township for salt to be used during the winter months with a vote of 6-0.

Council’s next meeting is set for Nov. 11 at 7 p.m. in the second-floor Council room of Peninsula Village Hall, located at the corner of state Route 303 and Akron-Peninsula Road.

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