Yorkville without police force, council mulls options

T-L Photo/ROBERT A. DEFRANK Yorkville Mayor Sandy Reasbeck mulls over options for law enforcement, since the village is without a police force following the retirement of the chief earlier this month.

YORKVILLE — A new mayoral administration and several recent additions to council are tackling the question of law enforcement for the village.

According to a post by former police chief John Morelli on the Yorkville Police Department Facebook site, Morelli submitted his letter of resignation during the Dec. 12 council meeting and turned in his keys Jan. 3. He said there have been clashes with the administration regarding accumulated vacation, comp time and sick time, as well as disagreements about insurance and pay increases for officers.

Newly elected Mayor Sandy Reasbeck, who had served on village council for eight years before taking the mayor’s post, spoke about the situation.

“We’ve got several different proposals, and we are really looking over it to make sure we get the best coverage for the amount of money that we can give for the village. So we’re not going to rush into it,” she said.

Reasbeck added that there are no current concerns about law enforcement in the village. She said the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department is patrolling the area with several cruisers throughout the day and evening until a decision is reached. She said the Belmont County Sheriff’s Office is also patrolling the community that straddles the line between the two counties. Reasbeck said she did not have the number of patrol hours at hand, but the presence of law enforcement is visible.

“I do feel like we’re safe,” she said.

Regarding the proposals, Reasbeck said they range in yearly cost from $125,000 to $190,000. Yorkville has received proposals for enforcement from the village of Bridgeport, nearby Tiltonsville and the city of Martins Ferry. Talks also continue with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

“We want to make sure we have the right coverage,” she said, adding that she also will speak to the village attorney. “It’s not going to be where we are going to say, ‘OK, we’re going to go with this person,’ and the next day it’s all settled. There’s a bunch of legal stuff also. We just don’t say we’re going to take this person to do it or this town to cover us and then it’s covered. It takes time.”

Reasbeck said she believes there is little prospect in the near future of the village reviving its police department. She said the chief has retired and the position cannot easily be filled.

“The police chief has to have certain qualifications to be a police chief. You just can’t put an officer in there,” she said. “That’s why we had to close the office up. To have a police department, you have to have a police chief.”

However, the process is complicated by several new council members who must have input.

“Not only am I the new mayor, we have three new council people as well, so they want to take the time and make the right decisions for the village,” she said.

Reasbeck said there is no projected timeline for when a new agreement might be made. Village leaders will hear from the village attorney before deciding what to do with the police vehicles and other equipment.

The new council members are David Spong and Sarah Jokivich, who were sworn in the first of the year. Councilwoman Liza Presutti has been on the council for five months, having been appointed to replace Nate Schaal, who resigned. Councilwoman Cindy Norman was appointed to Reasbeck’s open council seat.

Reasbeck said they will consider factors including the proximity and availability of officers, as well as the hours they will be available.

“They want to make sure that they made the right choice,” she said.

The next Yorkville Village Council meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 13 at the village office, 139 Market St. Council meets the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $2.99/week.

Subscribe Today