October 20, 2014

Medina
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Sheriff, Medina police pool resources

MEDINA — The Medina Police Department and Medina County Sheriff’s Office are pooling resources and cooperating in order to cut costs. As part of Operation Teamwork, “detectives will be working together and SWAT will be working together to save funds,” Sheriff Neil Hassinger said.

“With Operation Teamwork, we will save money on training costs and equipment,” he said. “We will have a more effective law enforcement response because of our willingness to work together.”

New Medina police and Sheriff’s Office employees also will train together at one another’s field facilities to develop similar training standards and a better working relationship between the two departments, an Operation Teamwork statement said.

Five Medina officers will join the county’s SWAT team, which currently is comprised of 20 officers from Montville Township, the Sheriff’s Office andWadsworth.

Medina Police Chief Patrick Berarducci said Operation Teamwork is about “contributing less manpower and getting better capability.” He said there are 38 officers in his department, and with the combined effort there will be 25 officers available for an emergency that eight or fewer officers would have handled otherwise.

Berarducci said he hopes more departments will join the team effort. If an incident happens in the city, for example, a Medina officer will take the lead in investigating while others will support that effort, he said. Otherwise, “it won’t matter whose patch is on the sleeve,” he said.

“The sheriff and I are longtime friends, so it makes work¬ing these issues much easier,” Berarducci said. “We began talking about this plan just a few days after I was appointed in August. Operation Teamwork is the result of those talks.”

Medina police also will take all prisoners to the Medina County Jail for processing and detention instead of using the cells at the Police Department. The more than 40-year-old Medina City Jail that housed two temporary detention cells closed Nov. 13. The space is being reclaimed as “secure storage of equipment,” Berarducci said. The number of personnel operating the county jail decreases the amount of risk for city officers, Berarducci said.

He also said the county jail exceeds national standards for jails by having a nurse on staff and a restraint chair.

“They have the ability to electronically monitor what goes on,” Berarducci said. “We don’t.”

At the 253-bed county jail, 72 beds are empty because two male units recently closed due to budget cuts, Hassinger said. As part of countywide budget cuts this year, the Sheriff’s Office had to trim about $1 million from its approximately $10 million budget.

Still, the Sheriff’s Office will never turn away serious offenders coming from Medina, Hassinger said. Serious violations include robbery, murder, rape, assault on a police officer and such, he said. “We will find beds for them,” he said. Even if it means “setting cots up, throwing a mattress on the floor.”

Contact Audrey McCrone at (330) 721-4063 or amccrone@ohio.net.