SCOTTVILLE — The Scottville public safety committee agreed this afternoon to hire Donald Riley of Walhalla as the city’s part-time police chief. The committee members, along with City Manager Amy Williams, discussed the options available to the police department and unanimously decided hiring a part-time chief and keeping the current full-time officers was the best fit for Scottville.
The city has been in a contract with the City of Ludington, which administers the Scottville Police Department. Ludington had requested a change of that contract beginning next year in which it would operate the entire department. Williams said that option would be beyond what Scottville could afford, costing an estimated $10,000 extra for the first year and then increasing each year after that.
The Mason County Sheriff’s Department had also proposed entering into an agreement with Scottville in which Scottville would fund 70 percent of an additional deputy who would work 40 hours per week. The sheriff’s department proposal would have guaranteed a five minute response time but the department would not guarantee it would hire one of Scottville’s officers for the position. See more details here.
“I’m just not comfortable doing that to one of our officers,” city commissioner Jim Schiebner said.
He, commissioner David Johnson and Mayor Dick Maki all agreed that hiring Riley was the best option. Riley was one of two candidates interviewed for the position. The other candidate was Dennis Richards of Grandville. Williams said that Richards indicated during the interview that he was unwilling to move to the area if he got the job.
“I think we need a chief who is going to be available,” Williams said.
Scottville’s agreement with Ludington requires a 90-day notice before termination. Scottville is currently paid up in the contract until the end of June. However, Williams said Chief Mark Barnett has indicated he would be willing to terminate the contract without the 90-day notice, but it’s ultimately up to Ludington City Manager John Shay.
The public safety committee is going to recommend to the city commission Monday night that Scottville put Ludington on notice that the contract is going to be terminated and that it is making the recommendations of hiring Riley as part-time chief, allowing him to start as soon as possible.
Riley will have to renew his police certification. Though he can do that by qualifying on the weapons range and taking a written exam, Williams said Riley indicated that he would prefer to take a week-long class that is going to be offered in mid-June. Without the certification he can still function as an administrative chief but will not have the authority to arrest.
City Commission meets Monday, May 6 at 5:30 p.m.