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Belfield awaits Stark County approval on merger

The Belfield City Council sat down Tuesday, April 13, for its regularly scheduled meeting to discuss the finalization of the merger between the Belfield Police Department and Stark County Sheriff’s Office.

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A truck from the Stark County Sheriff's Office is pictured. The Belfield City Council approved disbanding its police department March 9 and merge its one-man forces with the Stark County Sheriff's Office. On Tuesday, April 13, 2021, the council discussed steps moving forward with this merger and the contract that is currently being drafted and revised. (Jackie Jahfetson/The Dickinson Press)

Now that Belfield is moving forward with the Stark County Sheriff’s Office merger, city officials are currently working on revising the contract between the two entities with the hopes to launch this summer.

The Belfield City Council convened for its regular scheduled meeting Tuesday, April 13, at the Belfield Theater to discuss finalizing details within the contract between the City of Belfield and Stark County, regarding the March 9 approved disbandment of the Belfield Police Department.

Belfield City Attorney Sandra Kuntz noted that assuming this contract is approved by the Stark County Commission, this initiative could take effect by June or July. Stark County Sheriff Corey Lee has provided Kuntz with some concerns related to the amount of presence the sheriff’s office will be providing the community in Belfield.

“... That was one of the primary bullets we had in the public meeting and tried to within the context of this document, put that in terms of being the role of the Stark County Sheriff's Office,” Kuntz said.

Though the contract is still being revised, Kuntz noted that the Stark County Sheriff’s Office will provide scheduled routine patrols with an estimated response time of five minutes or less. The goal is to have two officers that will provide approximately 280 hours per month of law-enforcement presence in and around the city of Belfield.

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“... The main discussion we had was response time in that public meeting and presence in the community, because it's that combination of things that is going to keep your crime at a lower level; people abiding by everything from your zoning provisions, your speed provisions and your general criminal responsibilities,” Kuntz said.

Kuntz said the main difficulty right now is coming up with “an enforceable enough agreement,” but yet outlines specific provisions that are accommodating for both sides of this contract.

Mayor Marriann Mross noted that she is ready to move forward with this merger.

“I know this has been addressed in the past, we tried this and a lot of people didn't like it. But I think the only way we're going to find out what we need and how we're going to do it is just proceed forward and work through things,” Mross said. “We can sit and go over and over it 100 times but until we actually put it into action (where) we're actually doing it and trying it, my opinion that's only going to learn what's going to work and what's not.”

This agenda item will be discussed in further detail at the Stark County Commission meeting Tuesday, May 4, and at the next Belfield City Council meeting Tuesday, May 11.

Related Topics: GOVERNMENT AND POLITICSDICKINSONBELFIELD CITY COUNCILBELFIELD POLICE DEPARTMENTSTARK COUNTYPOLICE
Jackie Jahfetson is a former reporter for The Dickinson Press.
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