Copley police Chief Michael Mier said permanently blocking Rothrock Road has the potential to be disastrous and puts hundreds of residents at risk.
Copley attorney Irv Sugerman called Mier to the stand in Tuesday's continuing . Mier testified that the fastest way to get to any location in southern Copley from Montrose is to take Rothrock Road.
"If there were an incident in some parts of Copley and we had officers in the Montrose area and they could not use Rothrock Road, using Cleveland-Massillon Road would slow them down," Mier said. "Obviously response time is critical in the safety of our residents and our officers."
At any time there are between three and five Copley officers on patrol. When officers respond to an incident, they do not response from the station Mier said.
Sugerman asked Mier which businesses in Montrose the police department responded to most.
"We respond mostly to the hotels in that area, but also the retail area for shoplifters," Mier said. "On Rothrock Road, we respond mostly to Copley lace."
Copley Place is an independent senior living community. In a piece of evidence that document the number, types and location of calls between Jan. 1 2011 and March 26, 2012, there were 10 pages of calls directing officers to Copley Place.
Sugerman then asked about the plan to barricade Rothrock Road and if Mier new the most recent plan to use water barricades. Mier said he only learned of the water barricades Monday night when Sugerman called him.
"No one from Fairlawn ever consulted me about the water barricades," Mier said. "No one from Fairlawn consulted me about the concrete barricade plan."
Sugerman asked Mier his concerns with any type of barricade on Rothrock.
"The placement of the barricades could adversely affect traffic in Montrose," Mier said. "I have concerns about the ability of our officers to respond in a timely and safe fashion. I have concerns about their ability to respond quickly getting out of Montrose too."
The proposed water barriers interlock with a pin that could be removed to make the barriers easier to move, Sugerman said. The barriers lock like a door hinge. Mier's concern with that system is that the pin may not fall into place perfectly and then it could be hard to pull out. He also had concerns about the winter and how the heaving of the roadways could make the barriers uneven, making the pin harder to pull out.
Mier added the barriers would put more traffic on Cleveland-Massillon Road, and that using Fairlawn's proposed gate system at Rosemont Boulevard isn't a good idea.
If Walmart and Sam's Club build on Rothrock, Mier is also concerned about the crime that comes with any retail in that area such as shoplifters, shoplifters who flee the scene and accidents.
"If officers could go through the Rothrock Road area, there is less pedestrian traffic," Mier said. "When they go through Rosemont Boulevard, there are far more pedestrians, bicyclists, kids, and dogs. It makes me nervous to think our officers would be responding with lights and sirens, driving quickly through a residential neighborhood with people everywhere and still have to pay attention to all the things they have to do in an emergency."
Mier said if barriers were erected at Rothrock that the relationship between Copley, Fairlawn and Bath police departments would not change. The departments would continue to work together to respond to calls collaboratively.
"The point is, if a barricade is there, it will adversely affect our ability to respond to emergencies," Mier said. "I'd prefer to work with (the other departments) without a barricade or gate."