The mayor has asked the police chief to list possible cuts to his department as part of budget discusssion

Among one of the major discussions of this year’s city budget is funding for the Sherwood Police Department.

Specifically, will there be cuts to the department consisting of 22 sworn police officers and three staff members.

During an April 22 Sherwood Budget Committee hearing, Sherwood Police Chief Jeff Groth said while he understands that he can’t add more personnel this budget cycle, he would eventually like to see more staff in order to get the city on par with neighboring departments.

The Budget Committee continues its discussions Monday evening at 6 p.m. in the Sherwood City Council chambers inside Sherwood City Hall.

Currently, the police department has at least two officers on duty all the time, something that he doesn’t have all the time. However, Groth said 60 percent of the time the city has only one officer on duty because one officer has to transport someone to the Washington County Jail. He said he’d eventually like to have three officers on duty all the time.

Mayor Bill Middleton asked Groth if there are seven to eight officers on duty for day shift why they can’t be reallocated so that a command position is eliminated and that person is put on patrol.

While an option, Groth said the other duties those commanders are doing would fall by the wayside.

“Give us a list of what we would suffer from,” Middleton told Groth. “Why do we need that many on day shift?”

The mayor, who formerly served as Sherwood police chief, said he would like to see suggested cuts in the police department so that budget money isn’t taken from parks or for funding for the future Sherwood Community Center set to open in 2014.

However, Sherwood Budget Committee Chairwoman Ivonne Pflaum said public safety is the No. 1 job of city government, which should be supported over parks or a community center.

Middleton told Groth he simply wanted him to look carefully at the police budget.

During the April 22 meeting Washington County Sheriff Pat Garrett and Washington County Deputy District Attorney Kevin Barton express support for the department.

Also, Ray Shipley, a retired Medford chief of police and Sherwood resident, said while he believes the community is safe, “invisible crime” such as substance abuse and domestic violence are issues that need to be addressed.

Sherwood resident Laurie Zwingli said she recently was frustrated because there were not enough officers on duty to deal with her in person when she called to report her oldest son had run away and was preparing to hitch a ride in Washington with a semi-truck driver. The officer on duty was dealing with a domestic issue she was told.

While the incident was eventually resolved, she said she would have felt better to have had an officer come to her home for at least five minutes to talk with her.

“It ended well for me and my son,” Zwingli said, “but I felt I had been outsourced.”

She said the Sherwood police were more important than a cultural arts center.

While supportive of police too, Middleton said he was simply asking to reallocate resources, adding that there was a way to cut in every department and that the police department needed to bring something to the table.

“That’s what I’m getting at, is accountability,” he said.

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