MORROW COUNTY- Recently, the Morrow County Sheriff’s Office received a substantial amount of grant awards totaling in over $1 million.

As Morrow County Sheriff John L. Hinton explained, the grants that the office received were both state and federal.

Office Administrator of MCSO Missy Caldwell shared what each grant was and how important the money would be for the future operations. Hinton added some of the grants were applied for between 2020-2021 and as far as he knew this was the most grant money the office had ever received.

To start off, the Extradition Grant 2021 was in the amount of 3,026.10. Caldwell explained what this grant would cover.

“That specific one, we have to travel out of state if somebody is picked up on a felony charge. That qualifies for the state guidelines of a Tier 1. That is how much it costs just to bring one individual back from another state. That was a Florida extradition, so from Florida to here that is a lot of money and we were fortunate to be able to have a grant to be able to obtain that funding,” Caldwell said.

The next grant Caldwell discussed were radio grants that totaled in $288,000. The name of the grant was the Bryne Discretionary Community Project. Hinton added Congressman Troy Balderson got MCSO the grant.

“All of our current radios that we use for each deputy, their portables on their person or in their cars, the program within them is set to expire in 2025. So, everything that we are using would just stop working and you can’t operate an agency without communication. So, we were able to apply for a federal grant for the $288,000 to replace the majority of our portables and in car radios to get us compliant so we don’t lose communication,” Caldwell said.

Moving forward, MCSO received two grants for body worn cameras totaling in $31,560 and $47,340.

“Those total numbers combined we were able to qualify for two different grants to equal what it would cost to have a body worn camera program. That is just the initial to outfit 25 employees; it cost a lot just for 25. We have not had body cameras before, this is the first time but the way with law enforcement going out on the scene it just adds that extra layer of protection. We were only operating with cameras on the cruisers,” Caldwell said.

MCSO has started implementing the body worn cameras, Caldwell added.

“We are trying to get our day shift set up with them with proper usage. They have to go through training and follow our policy guidelines on usage. Once we get day shift comfortable with day to day, I believe our lieutenant is looking to expand another shift and then get the full agency 100 percent usage,” Caldwell said.

Caldwell then explained the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Law Enforcement/Violence Reduction Grant that totaled $587,141.08.

“The one we applied for was law enforcement recruitment to help obtain recruitment to what we were pre COVID. So, we lost a lot of employees when COVID happened and we are still struggling now to obtain applicants whether that be dispatchers, corrections or certified road deputies. So, this grant it does the violence reduction. This grant supports dispatchers and certified road deputies, we can’t add corrections in there. When COVID happened and there were a lot of violent crimes happening, this grant is to help get an agency back pre COVID and aid in reducing crime in the community as well,” Caldwell said.

Hinton explained part of the problem MCSO has when it comes to obtaining employees is the competition from other local agencies surrounding the area.

“Part of the problem we have is our correction officers and dispatchers start at $19.98 an hour. You can go to the Dollar Tree Distribution and make really close to that or the same. The same with our road units, we are the lowest paid in the area when it comes to sheriff offices. Throw a rock at any county around us Crawford, Marion, Richland, Delaware, Knox and they all pay more than we do. It’s just hard to compete with them,” Hinton said.

Caldwell explained one year after the pandemic, MCSO lost 12 positions.

“We are still down several positions, especially on our road patrol,” Caldwell said.

In addition, MCSO also received $50,000 from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office for a Law Enforcement Diversion Program.

“This grant tracks overdoses in the county. An assigned detective to the grant makes contact with the overdose victim and their families. Our detective works with Delaware/Morrow Recovery Services and Mary Haven. The goal of having this grant is to have a designated individual respond to overdoses-mostly drug related, and provide aid to those victims and families to get the help they need,” Caldwell stated.

Hinton explained these grants MCSO has received are truly vital for future operations.

“Lets take the radios for example, I think in 2024 the radios we had if we didn’t install the chip would have become obsolete and we wouldn’t have been able to use them. A lot of the radios we were carrying were so old they didn’t even make parts for them anymore. That one was vital, I don’t know how we would have paid for them if we didn’t get that grant,” Hinton said.

“With that, we tried being financially responsible asking in our budget. We knew about this the year prior, so when we asked the county commissioners for so many radios in our general fund budget, we didn’t get funding for it. We were trying to be financially responsible and ask for a few radios at a time through 2024 so we could outfit our fleet, our deputies and we didn’t get that,” Caldwell said.

“That’s not a shot at our commissioners, there is just only so much money to go around,” Hinton added.

When it comes to the body cameras, Hinton said the office wouldn’t have been able to get those without the grant.

“We really want to thank Congressman Troy Balderson, if it hadn’t been for him we wouldn’t have got the radio grant. I also want to thank the State of Ohio and OCJS (Ohio Criminal Justice System), and the Morrow County Commissioners. There were a couple of those grants they (commissioners) had to sign off on,” Hinton said.

By Mindy McKenzie

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