by Aaron Gibson, May 5, 2016
The Higginsport Police Department has reopened and is exceeding expectations after a nearly six year closure.
More than a year in the making, the village’s mayor is pleased with the results.
“The new department is better than I expected,” Higginsport Mayor Eddie Crawford Jr. said.
The Higginsport Police Department disbanded in February 2010 amid financial troubles in the village, but Crawford, a council member at the time, says he vocally disagreed with the decision to shut it down.
Crawford began pushing the idea of reforming the police department at several council meetings after his mayoral election, eventually swaying members into getting on board with a 5 to 1 vote in favor in January 2015.
Crawford argued the deal made with Brown County Sheriff’s Office for their deputies to patrol Higginsport wasn’t bringing the village any revenue while residents continued to pay taxes on a non existent department.
Following the lengthy battle between the mayor and village council, the Higginsport Police Department became once again operational toward the end of last year.
“It was a tough fight,” Crawford said.
Crawford says despite many residents being skeptical of a new police department, he has noticed an overall improving reaction from the community.
“I have some of them that shake my hand and want to hug me, and I have some of them that want to throw rocks and shoot at me,” he quipped.
Newly appointed Chief Bob Feinen, a 37-year veteran in law enforcement, said he began recruiting permanent staff for the reopened Higginsport Police Department in December 2015.
One of the first to join the force was Sgt. Shawn Elliott, who says the willingness of Higginsport Police officers to serve the community without being paid should speak for their dedication.
“We could go get a job anywhere … We choose to be here, and we’re choosing to make a name for ourselves by doing police work not by payroll,” Elliott said. “Sure, you don’t want to run into us if you’re breaking the law, but we’re also here to help.”
The volunteer department, due to a tight budget, has relied heavily on contributions from private donors, including two new police cruisers.
Georgetown businessman Jamie Swearingen and his company Swearingen’s Auto Care helped bring a third police cruiser, a 2003 Ford Crown Victoria which sat for five years, “back to life,” Feinen said in a statement.
Feinen also credited interior work completed by Green’s Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning Service in helping get the cruiser back onto the streets.
During the course of the project, additional contributions have been made by Higginsport Fire Department, the recently disbanded Lincoln Heights Police Department, Brown County Communications Center, Brown County Sheriff’s Office, Batavia Police and others.
Laptops with WiFi technology are among the newly donated equipment.
“It’s been great to have that kind of technology available to us, especially when you get down to the bottom of the hill we don’t have the best radio communications to get back to dispatch … The fact that we can use our WiFi and laptop connections to communicate with them is huge,” Elliott said.
Elliott says the department is currently working on getting ballistic vests and would graciously accept any help the public can give.
If you are interested in donating to the Higginsport Police Department or are certified and would like to join the team as an officer, the department asks you to contact the Village of Higginsport municipal offices at (937) 375-4115.
—The Brown County Press, Volume 43 No. 40
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