NEWTON FALLS, Ohio (WKBN) – Newton Falls City Council council voted Wednesday to place policing in the hands of the Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office.
That vote passed 3-1.
At-large Councilperson Julie Stimpert was the only council member to vote no.
It was a contentious meeting. About 30 people stood and spoke for more than an hour addressing the council. Multiple people had to be removed from chambers by police throughout the night.
Residents, firefighters, former sheriff’s deputies, school district heads, even former council members, spoke against disbanding police.
“If we disband our police department, do you know how much our homeowner’s insurance is going to go up? I called mine. It’s about 25% to 30%,” an unnamed resident told the council.
Interim Newton Falls Exempted Village School Superintendent Justin Christopher said the district will suffer, too.
“The possibility of not having school resource officers in the school building is unimaginable to me,” he said.
Windham Police Chief Richard Garinger spoke at the meeting about an offer to help Newton Falls with policing. Windham is about seven minutes away from Newton Falls in Portage County.
“I’ve been a law enforcement officer for 33 years. Every time I see police departments close, it doesn’t open again,” Garinger said.
Council members say using police from another county would be cumbersome and more costly than going with the sheriff’s department. Under the Trumbull County Sheriff’s department agreement, the city will be paying roughly $400,000 annually.
A sheriff’s deputy would be in the city limits of Newton Falls all but eight hours out of the week.
Council did discuss the possibility of placing another police levy on the ballot and did say they hope to reinstate their own police department.
Details about the transition process were not immediately available.