Scioto County is running far behind the statewide numbers of law enforcement agents, according to a report from the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission and the office of Attorney General Jim Petro.
Ohio has 11.5 milllion residents and 2.12 full-time peace officers per 1,000 residents, according to a report compiled from 2005 U.S. Census statistics.
Meanwhile, the three law enforcement agencies in Scioto County - the Scioto County Sheriff's Office, the Portsmouth Police Department and the New Boston Police Department - total 96 full-time peace officers out of just more than 79,000 residents, or 1.21 officers per 1,000.
Scioto County Sheriff Mart Donini said he believs his department is understaffed with officers.
"First because of those 79,000 residents, 60,000 or 75 percent, live in the county. Then, factor in that we have 600-plus square miles to police, and you have a real time delay - a slower response time because of the larger area to cover," Donini said.
He said that the new jail facility has really helped the ability to epidite booking and bond processing, and it has alleviated the waiting list. However, he said it also has created additional expenses.
"When we got the grant, the state mandated that we hire an additional 19 corrections officers, and these are not sworn officers. So we added to our staff but bot inactuial peavce officers," he said.
Also, Donini said 12 of the deputies are subsidized by some of the townships in Scioto County.
Porter Township subsidizes four deputies to the tune of over $250,000. Clay and Washington subsidize twon each, and Green, Nile and Rush each subsidize one deputy," said Donini.
Porter Polic eChief Charles Horner said that his department needs additional manpower, as well.
"We clearly need more officers to address the drug problem, without a doubt," Horner said.
Horner said the department has 39 officers on their roster.
A total of 987 agencies, both public and provate, submitted roster data to the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission. Nearly 80 percent of the law enforcement agencies in Ohio are classified as municipal corporation or township agencies. According to the report, more than 33,000 peace officers are serving in Ohio, with the vast majority of these officers employed full time. The figures compiled in the report show that Ohio has one officer for every 471.7 residents.
The Attorney General's Office reported that 2005 was the first time that every agency in the state had responded since the response was mandated in 2002.
"I commend the staff members at OPOTC for their diligence in ensuring that the people of Ohio have an accurate picture of the number of officers who are responsible for protecting us," Petro said. "This data will prove useful in determining the strengths and weaknesses of our peace officers corps."
FRANK LEWSIcan be reached at (740) 353-3101, Ext.232