The Council wondered about the closure of the court EL | News, Sports, Jobs
EAST LIVERPOOL – Following the January death of Judge Dominic Frank, the future of East Liverpool City Court hangs in the balance. On Monday evening, some city workers told City Council their thoughts on the proposed change, including Police Chief John Lane.
Lane said police department staffing has become a critical issue and moving the municipal court would only create more difficulties.
“Every time we have a court, instead of just going up the stairs, down the hill, you have to drive to Lisbon,” Lane said. “If a guy works day, he can just come here and do it. He’s always in town so if we get a major call he can always react, but when he’s there he’s gone.
Attempts to try to recruit more officers did not go well, Lane told the council, and said the city had recently held a civil service exam and only one person had taken it and had failed. “It’s a serious problem” he said. “Now we have two more officers who will be leaving and going to the Columbiana County Sheriff’s Office. It will be a total of five officers who left here and went there. I also have another one who is going to retire because he is tired of working short hours.
He said not only is it difficult to fill ranks when officers leave, but it has become difficult to fill the department’s schedule. “It’s a major problem. I had to work 4pm myself yesterday just to cover the shift,” Lane said.
He said the city needs to keep pace with what other departments are paying. “I can’t even get people to take our test, the pay scale is so low,” Lane said. “You can deliver pizza for more. That does not make sense.
Lane told the board he thinks the court is a big part of East Liverpool’s identity and trying to shut it down is very short-sighted. “We’ve been shrinking for 40 years because it’s just easier to do this? Well, that’s not the answer because we’ve been here forty years, look at all we’ve lost. We need to stop listening and do what the north end of the county wants to do,” Lane said as quite a large audience cheered.
In his recent letter to the Columbiana County Board of Commissioners, in which Mayor Greg Bricker called on the commissioners to end the city’s municipal court and merge it with the Columbiana County Municipal Court, he cited a decline number of cases in recent years. Bricker said in his letter that the East Liverpool court had 875 court cases in total.
However, City Court Clerk Candy Page said the total excludes Bricker administrative cases where defendants appeared in court and cases where defendants paid fines and costs or settled and did not. appeared before a judge. According to Page, who also spoke on Monday night, when those additional figures are included, East Liverpool’s total is much higher at 2,511, almost three times as high as Bricker’s figure of 875.
Page said Bricker’s number does not create a true picture of all the cases in court. “Mayor Bricker, I think, and the city of East Liverpool and all of us should be proud to have our own court”, said Page. “Our recently deceased judge Dominic Frank would have fought for our court and so would we. Please give our court its due credit. Correct our case count because we deserve the true case count numbers, not inaccurate numbers. »
The city’s Chief Probation Officer, Sara Norris, also spoke to council about the court, discussing various vital programs such as drug court. She said these programs are important in changing lives and breaking the cycle of addiction.
“None of our good ideas and plans can be implemented to improve the city if we cannot solve the drug problem,” Norris said. “We’ve gone on fentanyl and we’re on meth. If you haven’t seen anyone on meth, I suggest you look on YouTube and see what we’re dealing with. It could go on and get worse if they don’t have anyone here.
Norris said she doesn’t want the court closure to be Judge Frank’s legacy. “Not even a month after he died, and then we were caught off guard,” Norris said, and added that drug court has a 69% success rate for people who successfully complete the program. The national average, she says, is only about 50%.
Next, the East Liverpool court issue will be considered by State Representative Tim Ginter and the Ohio Supreme Court. Upon review, if the Ohio Supreme Court reviews it and decides it would be best to merge the courts, it would take legislation from Ginter to dissolve the court, and that could take months.