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Village fires two police officers and Chief
LYNCHBURG, Ohio (Joe Webb) -- While it is National Police Week, in Lynchburg, Ohio they're not honoring their department, they're disbanding it.
The Highland County Village laid off its two part-time police officers last week. Wednesday is the last day for the Police Chief. Lynchburg is a quiet little Highland County Village of about 1,500 known for its covered bridge. Wednesday night, the bridge will be covered but there's some concern about police coverage.
Chief Tim Heizer is the last man standing in Lynchburg's Police Department and Thursday there won't be anyone to answer the phone. In the last month, two officers were let go. Heizer's 35 years in uniform ends Wednesday. The Highland County Sheriff's Office will cover Lynchburg.
Chief Tim Heizer said, "Most of the time there's only two road deputies covering the county on any shift. They may be in the far north end or south end of the county and that would be 20-30 minutes response time down here for anything."
That's why a half dozen or so Lynchburg residents protested at the village hall Tuesday afternoon. They voted for and passed a renewal police levy last week and can't believe the village doesn't have enough money.
Lynchburg resident, Doloris Houk, said, "This isn't how we want this town to be run. It's not how we want the village to be ran. There's secrets and we want answers."
Local 12's Joe Webb got a simple answer from Village Administrator Tami Pierre. It's purely a budget issue. The levy brings in $71,000 a year.
Pierre said, "The total cost of the department was $125,000 so that deficit of $54,000 was covered by the general fund."
She says she told the Chief last fall the general fund was running out of money to cover the department and something had to be done. The Chief says this isn't about money but personalities. He says the budget wasn't an issue in Lynchburg until he got crosswise with the city Administrator's husband and one of his officers wrote a traffic ticket to a County Commissioner's mother.
Whatever the reason, Lynchburg will soon be without a police department. And the ultimate question on residents' minds is why not find a way to pay for it? The Village Administrator says the village is talking with the Highland County Sheriff about hiring a deputy to be on duty a few nights a week in Lynchburg. The levy money would pay for that.
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