RURAL PATROLS Trumbull sheriff asks local police for help

With layoffs looming, the sheriff is looking for help policing rural areas of the township.
WARREN -- Area police chiefs say their officers won't patrol unpoliced areas of Trumbull County but they will respond to provide assistance in life-threatening situations.
With no money to pay deputies to patrol county roads, Trumbull County Sheriff Thomas Altiere asked local police departments for help.
Because of the county's financial crisis, the sheriff's department must make layoffs and will no longer have detectives or road patrol deputies.
Altiere said all police chiefs for Trumbull County met with him and his staff Friday behind closed doors to discuss what can be done to make sure residents in the northern part of the county have police protection. Many of those townships -- such as Johnston, Kinsman and Braceville -- have only part-time police forces. Greene Township does not have a police department.
"These areas counted on us for the police protection, and now, I don't have the money to do it," Altiere said. "I explained the situation to the area chiefs and they all said they would do what they could to help. They will assist when they can."
The southern townships in the county either have their own police forces or are covered by city departments.
Greg Hicks, law director for the city of Warren, summed up the attitude of the officials meeting with Altiere: The city police department will help in any life-threatening situation.
"We will do what we can but our first priority will be the citizens of Warren," Hicks said.
Priority calls
According to the sheriff's department there were 180 priority calls to the northern townships in 2002. Numbers for 2003 and 2004 were not available. Priority calls include abduction, domestic violence, gunshot, mass casualties, stabbing, suicide, aircraft crash and homicide.
The sheriff's department will lay off 24 deputies this weekend because of budget cuts.
The sheriff's department operated on $8.4 million last year, before county income was lost from a half-percent sales tax defeated by voters in November 2003. The sheriff's budget was cut to $5.4 million this year.