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Silver Grove Hears Options for Eliminating Police Department

Like a pendulum swinging back-and-forth, Silver Grove city council and its residents are weighing the pros and cons of a potential move to a county-only police presence in the community. Following the city’s formal request last month to determine if utilizing the Campbell County Police Department is in their best interests, Campbell County Administrator Matt Elberfeld and Police Chief Craig Sorrell presented in front of council Thursday evening.

Elberfeld notified council members that there are three available options for the city: A: Four shifts per week (four 10-hour days because the county is on 10-hour shifts) at an annual cost of $100,000; B: Five shifts per week at a $130,000 price tag; C: Seven shifts per week at the cost of $145,000. “It is important to know that it is 52 weeks of coverage. Just because the one or two officers that might be in Silver Grove during that time…if they were in training, if they were sick, if they were on vacation, there would still be coverage,” Sorrell said. 

Councilman Scott McCarter favors the switch: “This is a 50-hour shift too, not a 40-hour shift,” he said, 

in reference to option B, “If (Doug) Holt (Silver Grove Police Chief) was here, he would also have to go to Newport when he’s got a court hearing. He also goes upstairs and does paperwork, so I think you would be looking at 50 hours a week guaranteed through them and you’re looking at maybe 32 with Doug.” McCarter added that the city would be saving thousands of dollars if it made the transition.

Chief Sorrell pointed out, “this has nothing to do with Doug. We were asked to be here and present. I’m not speaking in any way of how Doug does or seeing how we can do better or anything like that, that’s not what this is about. I’m here to offer this as an option for you all to consider.” Among those considerations, according to Sorrell: Campbell County’s department is the only county division with access on an as-needed basis to the Drug Task Force, SWAT, Accident Reconstruction Team, Crime Scene 
Unit, NKY Drug Strike Force, Crimes Against Children Investigator, full-time investigative staff, and the Honor Guard.

But not everyone is on board. One resident remarked she didn’t like change regarding the possible move, while another resident countered with the argument that a county-led patrol is “viable and can meet our needs, at a price that we can afford and we won’t have to spend any more money…that’s what I’m hearing from them. Again, we trust the council here to get all the information and make the right decision and that’s all that I want.”

Following additional comments from a resident about the city’s police chief, councilman Paul Lindon had enough. “All you’re doing is bashing Doug,” he said, his voice rising. “We’re here to ask these people questions and you’re bashing Doug. That’s all you’re doing.”

Although a few of his council colleagues were warming to the idea that was presented to them Thursday evening, Mayor Neal Bedel brought a singular issue to the forefront: “There’s one thing, just so everybody here in town knows. There’s one thing that’ll make me agree to do this and that is the fear of lawsuits. Yes, we have insurance, yes we can fend it off the best we can or whatever but that concerns me, you know. I don’t know how much this city could handle a multi-million dollar lawsuit, so that’s a big concern of mine. I told Doug Holt that, Doug Holt knows my feelings about all of this. He and I have sat down and had a couple of conversations about it so he’s aware of everything we’re talking about. He knows my opinion about everything.” 

Additionally, another resident voiced her concern about the city possibly dissolving its department. 

“We’re little. We love what we’ve got, we don’t wanna leave it but we don’t wanna lose it, either. But we wanna make sure that if something does happen that nothing stops our way of life that we have now. And that’s a concern to me.”

Councilman David Bass: “Once it’s gone, it’s gone. You’re not getting it back. It depends on the county you want to live in and I happen to like having a small town cop just like I grew up with…Lose your police force and you know the school is going to go eventually. Silver Grove is going to be nothing.”

“I think with county, you get mandate and dictate. I think you get a little more personal service with a hometown police officer,” Bass said.

Whether Silver Grove sticks with its hometown department or transitions to county service will be discussed at a tentatively scheduled meeting on August 20 at 7 p.m. A further update on the location of this scheduled meeting will be confirmed shortly by mayor Bedel.

Other Notes:

Paul Dennis, owner of the property at 5218 Mary Ingles Highway, has said the home may come down earlier than its scheduled November 1 deadline.

Silver Grove will host its Concert In The Park event on Saturday, August 15, from 7-11 p.m. featuring the Sunburners at Chief Sayers Park.

Story & photo by Jason Finnell, RCN contributor