SOLACE (Surviving Our Loss and Continuing Everyday) founder Jo Ann Krohn said the PPD has been an invaluable resource in the community’s fight against drug abuse and she can’t understand why the city hasn’t yet remedied the situation.
“Police Chief (Charles) Horner has been nothing but good, not just to our group and standing behind us on things we tried to accomplish. Under his leadership we are seeing more arrests, a lot more things are happening that are positive and I think he’s a big part of that,” Krohn said. “I know it’s impossible for him to do his best work in the condition the department is in right now.”
The Police Department was divided into three locations in November 2010 when black mold was discovered in the Police Department offices in basement of the city building, and Police Department employees were attributing illnesses to the black mold. Since then, crews have been working to remove the mold.
“It’s ridiculous,” Horner said. “It has clearly reduced service to the public, being spread to three locations. It has decreased morale. For example, I am in a room with 14 people — a room with no privacy. If I want to meet people I end up going to Bob Evans as an office to meet with them. And it’s embarrassing when people come from out of town, and especially in light of the major drug problem we’ve had and the partnerships we’ve developed with the federal government.”
Horner said he hasn’t had any direct discussions with SOLACE members about this initiative, however.
“We’ve talked before, just like I talk to everybody else about it, about needing a police department,” Horner said Thursday morning. “I have not hidden it from anybody, needing a building. I just can’t do a media release, and I can’t verbally speak it publicly. If the Mayor (David Malone) would remove my gag order, I would then talk about it publicly, but I have not done that and have not had any communication like that with SOLACE.”
Krohn has called an emergency meeting of SOLACE for Monday to begin conversation about the issue.
“Somehow we have to get together as a community and do something to help them. They are doing a good job and we want them to be able to do a better job,” Krohn said.
Krohn said the group will start to talk with city and state officials. She said they are willing to start fundraising efforts.
“We are going to find out what we need to do and if that means a little bit of protesting, or writing letters or making phone calls, we are prepared to do that,” Krohn said.
She said this is a long-term commitment SOLACE is willing to undertake.
FRANK LEWIS and WAYNE ALLEN may be reached at (740) 353-3101.