GALENA — Among the more than 500 people who visited the Genoa Township’s new Police Station during its grand opening in July was Delaware County Prosecutor Melissa Schiffel.
“I was so happy to be invited, and very eager to see the fantastic addition to Delaware County,” Schiffel wrote in the township’s latest newsletter. “You may be surprised to know that our office had a hand in getting the new police headquarters up and running. We helped with the bidding process and offered contractual advice as the project continued.”
Schiffel said her office provides statutory legal counsel to all 18 townships in the county, helping out in ways that one may not realize. For example, the Delaware County Prosecutor’s Office aided in drafting a bid package to negotiate waste-hauling in Genoa.
“This means we’re in regular contact with Genoa Township staff providing legal advice in many different arenas, including general township business, human resources, police, fire, and zoning,” Schiffel said. “As legal counsel, it’s our role to provide the law to the Board of Trustees (or zoning, or police department, etc.) to enable the Board to make the most legally sound and best decision for the township and its residents.”
“Trustees must also be familiar with human resources polices and zoning regulations,” Connie M. Goodman added in her Trustee Report. “Although trustees are bonded, actions and decisions that are outside the scope of their authority or the law can result in personal liability.”
The Genoa Township Police Department is investigating an incident that took place Aug. 9 at Westerville Central High School involving members of the football team.
“We have been in contact with the Delaware County Prosecutor’s Office and will forward the investigation to them once it’s completed to determine what, if any, criminal charges are appropriate,” Chief Steve Gammill said in a message to the public. “If you have any information pertinent to this investigation please contact us at 614-568-2060.”
A separate incident, involving indecent exposure at the Alcott Elementary School playground on Aug. 12, was reported to the Genoa PD, Gammill wrote.
Both of those schools are in the Westerville City School district. As the school year began, Gammill wrote, “This is our annual reminder not to speed in our school zones. We take our kids safety seriously and we will have extra patrols in the school zones to stop speeders and ticket them. We have a zero tolerance policy on this so please watch for those flashing lights and slow down. Also watch for school buses loading and unloading.”
A rash of vehicle break-ins recently occurred in the township, and Gammill noted the Bureau of Justice Statistics said crime follows seasonal patterns, peaking in the summer.
“Lock doors to your home and vehicle, keep garage doors closed, and report suspicious activity to Genoa Township Police Department by calling 911 in an emergency or the non-emergency dispatch line (740-833-2800),” he wrote. “Both phone numbers are staffed continuously.”
If you find yourself in danger or are need of help outside of normal hours, the new police station at 6921 Big Walnut Road has a safe room in the lobby just past the front doors. You can go inside the room, lock yourself in, and use a phone that goes straight to 911.
“The walls are bullet resistant and you will be safe until officers arrive in just a few minutes to get you out,” Gammill wrote. “The outer doors to the station are always unlocked but the inner doors are locked after normal business hours. There have been tragic situations in other cities in the past where someone needing help went to a police station only to find no one there. We want to make sure that doesn’t happen here.”
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.