Five police departments form partnership for mutual aid during emergencies
In light of the financial hardships gripping many communities, five suburban police departments formalized an alliance last month to share resources in the event of serious emergencies.
Beachwood, Euclid, South Euclid, Shaker Heights and University Heights have created the EDGE partnership – Eastside Departments Group Enforcement Teams. Under the agreement, each city will provide equipment, personnel and other services as needed in case of an unusual emergency in any of the cities.
A brief and quiet signing ceremony took place at Shaker Heights City Hall on March 15, during which the five police chiefs signed the memorandum of understanding, making the EDGE initiative official. The agreement was also signed by the mayor of each city.
“This is a wonderful example of regional cooperation,” said Earl M. Leiken, mayor of Shaker Heights, at the start of the meeting.
EDGE aims to maintain, or even exceed, expected service levels in each community, despite the possibility that each city may face budget cuts. The partnership provides mutual aid and exchange of specialized police units such as SWAT, narcotics and crime scene investigation.
“The sharing of police services and resources is not only more efficient and cost effective, it also raises the level of service that we’re able to provide to our residents on a daily basis,” said Scott Lee, Shaker Heights police chief.
According to Gary Stehlik, University Heights police chief, the idea of combining such resources has been around for some time. “The chiefs have been talking about this for two years now,” he said. “We wanted to do a lot of things to save money.”
The primary goal is to create a unified SWAT team that can be shared, Stehlik said. In this way, each city can rely on one cost-effective SWAT team instead of struggling to maintain its own.
Cleveland Heights is not participating. Police chief Jeffrey Robertson, who was promoted after the retirement of long-time CH police chief Martin Lentz, said the opportunity wasn’t there for Cleveland Heights to join immediately. He added that the door is open for the city to join in the future.
Robertson said he has been invited to attend future meetings. “I have been in contact with the other chiefs," he said. “And right now, we’re looking at resources to see how Cleveland Heights can fit into the program. We have a bomb squad, and that’s a resource we could possibly offer.”
Communities joining EDGE will pay a $5,000 annual fee, to be used for equipment maintenance, training, tuition reimbursements and other services.
For more information on the EDGE Team, contact Shaker Heights Police Chief Scott Lee at 216-491-1240.
Kristy Napier is a freelance writer and photographer who has lived in Cleveland Heights her entire life.