ROSEVILLE – The Roseville community was introduced to their new police chief, Archie Spradlin, during a meeting at the Roseville Community Center on June 6. Citizens had a list of questions for the new chief, with their primary concerns being the village’s ongoing drug problem and purportedly listless youth. Spradlin was, for better or worse, put in the hot seat, being surrounded by 50¬75 mostly older members of the community who were not shy about voicing their concerns.
Citizens questioned the new chief on how he will handle the community’s drug problem. They recounted multiple instances of crimes they thought were related to drug use, including couples fighting in the street, car parts being stolen and the transportation of drugs between county lines in broad daylight by persons carrying backpacks. Many people began informing him of residences and locations where they believed drug use was going on.
Spradlin, in a stern response, said he would work toward improving the situation in town, but that this would not mean kicking in doors and arresting people without probable cause. Everything would be done to the letter of the law.
“There’s no law we’re going to create or make up to deal with someone we don’t like,” Spradlin said.
Before coming to Roseville, Spradlin worked for the Ohio State Highway Patrol and other law enforcement agencies. He worked near the Roseville area as part of the Zanesville post of the highway patrol in 1995-1999. He has served in law enforcement for 30 years.
He came to Roseville when he was informed they were looking for a police chief from outside the area. At the time he had another offer in Columbus, but he turned it down, saying he was tired of working in the city and the long drive. He settled on Roseville because he had recently moved out to the country and wanted to work closer to home and family.
Many citizens expressed concerns to Spradlin that when they reported drug activity, it seemed there was no immediate response to the complaint. Spradlin said this was because an adequate case had to be built against a person before action could be taken.
At one point in his career, Spradlin worked for a special drug enforcement unit. He said the normal process of making a drug bust involves monitoring suspected residences and gathering information from informants to build up a list of locations. This is done for multiple places over a period of months. Once enough evidence has been built, there will be a large roundup to take in multiple suspects at once.
“Know here within the next few months progress will be made,” Spradlin said.
However, the system has its flaws. Spradlin said the primary problem is budget. It is difficult to build cases when you have limited officers working limited hours. Officers generally work eight-hour-a day, 40-hour weeks, and posting them to watch a house takes them away from other duties.
Another issue, he said, is that some citizens who make reports on others do not want to follow up in court. “People don’t want to be involved in court, but they want things to stop,” Spradlin said.
Roseville has been without a police force for about a year. Spradlin will be taking over as the sole officer on June 9 until funding is figured out. In the absence of a police department, Roseville has been heavily reliant on the sheriff’s department.
However, because Roseville sits on a county line, utilizing the sheriff’s department is difficult. There is often confusion as to whether the Perry County Sheriff Department or Muskingum County Sheriff Department needs to be dispatched or contacted for complaints. Which department is dispatched depends on the section of town a crime is reported in, but citizens might not know which side of the county line they’re on.
“A lot of times when you call, they ask do you live in Muskingum County or Perry County? I mean, I know where I live; some others do not,” said Scott Poling, a resident of Roseville. “I’ve seen some of this activity in Perry County, then they walk into Muskingum County as they’re transporting the drugs. So whose jurisdiction is that?”
Spradlin proposed a solution to the issue of limited police presence in the formation of an auxiliary police force. The auxiliary would be formed of volunteers, like a volunteer fire department, and would patrol the streets to have a constant police presence in town and discourage crime. The auxiliary police would not have the ability to arrest people, unless the crime justifies a citizen’s arrest, and would act instead as a well-trained neighborhood watch.
“Not just anybody will put on a gun and a badge in Roseville,” Spradlin said.
Previously, Roseville had been in a mutual-aid partnership with the Village of Crooksville where both police departments helped each other. Spradlin said re-establishing mutual aid had been considered, but currently would not be fair to either village.
Spradlin asked, if he were called to Crooksville, who would be watching things in Roseville? Furthermore, the Roseville Police Department’s only officer is Spradlin, which would result in the Crooksville Police Department contributing more to Roseville than the other way around.
Poling said he believes that the problems faced in Roseville are primarily a lack of community engagement. Poling said that earlier in the year he was part of an effort to start a youth baseball program, but altogether they were able to get only 11 kids to sign up.
“We’ve got a situation where we don’t have any recreation right now, anything for the kids to do, which I tend to believe breeds problems with the kids,” he said. “They don’t have anything structured right now, we’re going to try and work on that.”
A large portion of attendees at the meeting expressed similar sentiments, believing that the primary issue in Roseville is a lack of social cohesion. If that cohesion is restored, they believe the community would be better able to address its problems.