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Police training comes at a bargain price

By BOB HANSEN - Connersville News-Examiner

HAGERSTOWN — Police training seems to be coming at a bargain price.

The Hagerstown Police Department recorded 920 hours of training for officers in 2017, at a total budget of $1,000, according to Chief Keith Folkner. That figures out to about $1.08 an hour.

Folkner said it’s a result of some horse-trading: Town officers provide training to other departments in exchange for training given to HPD. The town’s police force provided all small department defensive tactics, including defensive tactics, for the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department, the chief said.

That somewhat surprising cost is one of many statistics in the chief’s annual report to the town council on Monday. Folkner said the town police had received $16,000 in donations and $2,000 in the form of a grant during 2017.

Donations allowed the town to purchase a K9 officer, Andor, who has been kept busy. With his handler, officer Ryan Clark, the dog is being called out three to five times a week, mostly for drug investigations, Folkner said. With another dog on-duty with Cambridge City police, Folkner said he has heard that drug sellers no longer travel I-70, U.S. Hwy 40 through Cambridge City or Ind. 38 through Hagerstown. Instead, they go north to U.S. Hwy 35.

But, he said, while there has been a decline in the number of calls for Narcan – a drug that reverses overdoses from opioids – that may be because of a change in illegal drug use. Where opioid abuse was strong in 2016, a resurgence in methamphetamine abuse seems to be underway.

Local police have carried Narcan in their cars since 2016. But Narcan is now sold over-the-counter at pharmacies. That, Folkner said, has resulted in “Narcan parties” where one person is the “designated Narcan person” and does not use the illegal opioid drugs while everyone else does. If someone overdoses, he injects them with Narcan, negating the need for calling police or emergency responders. These incidents do not show up in police reports.

In all, HPD worked 111 cases in 2017, an increase of 17 cases over 2016. They worked 27 crashes (14 more than 2016). Of 328 tickets issued, 219 were warnings, in keeping with Folkner’s philosophy that warnings sometimes do more to correct behavior than a fine would.

In business on Monday, the town council learned that the town might save money on downtown water line replacement by doing it all at one time instead of dividing it into phases. Engineer Doug Kramer estimated that the cost of replacing old water lines on Main Street from Pearl to Sycamore might cost $30,000 to $50,000 less than the estimated $640,000 required for dividing the work into three parts. The council agreed that it will ask contractors to bid the work as one project or in phases to compare costs. The work will likely be done this year.

Council heard from two program aides who work in the Nettle Creek School Corp. through the Communities in Schools program. The council has made an annual donation of $5,000 in support of the program for several years.

Allison Ullery works with about 70 pupils at Hagerstown Elementary School. Nancy Williamson works with about 30 at Hagerstown Jr.-Sr. High School. The elementary program has been ongoing for many years; the high school program since mid-January.

Ullery said a lot of her work is homework help and making sure students have supplies and other needs.

Williamson said, “Currently, I have 12 seniors … trying to get them to the finish line so they graduate.” She focuses on attendance, behavior and social issues.

Both aides said a great deal of their work is helping to meet basic needs, such as snacks, clothing and personal hygiene, as well as bullying and sexual harassment.

The council’s next regular meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 2, in town hall, 49 E. College St. The public may attend.