Scottville police chief fires back at critical commissioner.

July 21, 2015

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

SCOTTVILLE — Scottville Police Chief Don Riley fired back at Commissioner Ed Hahn’s recent criticism of Scottville Police Department during his report to the city commission Monday afternoon.

At the July 6 meeting of the commission, Hahn supported a motion to disband the police department, which has an annual budget of around $150,000 and employs two full-time officers, a part-time chief and five part-time officers. Since then, Hahn has been openly critical of the police department. He appeared in an interview on TV 7&4 where he said 99.9% of the emergency calls in Scottville were answered by the Mason County Sheriff’s Office rather than the police department. He also stated on MCP’s Facebook page that the training of the SPD officers was questionable.

“I don’t know why anyone would say that,” Chief Riley said. “I don’t know why anyone would make that untrue statement to the media.”

“All you have to do is walk around Chief,” Hahn responded.

“Like I said, I don’t know why anyone would make that statement to the news media,” the chief rebutted.

Riley presented a long list of training he and the department’s two full-time officers have received. He asked Hahn who his source was that stated the department’s personnel were not properly trained.“Knowing that you said I was poorly trained, I would have assumed that you would have that guy here.”

“I could ask one simple question that could straighten all this out but I’m not going to put this individual on the spot,” Hahn said.

“Inferring that we are improperly trained probably is not accurate,” Riley said. “Any future inaccurate slanderous attacks on us may possibly result in lawsuits.”

Riley said the police department has been accused of not writing enough tickets. He said writing tickets is not always the solution to enforcing the law and that verbal warnings are often more effective and better for public relations.

Since the beginning of the year, Scottville police officers have conducted 241 traffic stops, out of 828 police incidents. He said most of the traffic stops take place on State Street (U.S. 10) and Main Street.

Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole was also present at the meeting. Hahn has been outspoken about allowing the sheriff’s office to respond to calls at no additional cost to Scottville tax payers.

“I’m not here to advocate one way or another if you are going to make a decision in respect to your police department,” Cole said, adding that his department currently has 13 road patrol deputies, three detectives and one lieutenant. It operates on a $1.65 million budget, of which, $1.4 million includes wages, benefits, uniforms, gas and equipment. “When you boil away everything that is required I have about $30,000 left in my budget. That’s not a lot of money.”

Sheriff Cole said if Scottville Police Department did not exist and if the city did not formally contract with and pay additional funds for patrols, that the sheriff’s office would still respond to 911 calls in the city but would not be patrolling neighborhoods, conducting speed monitoring or enforcing the city’s ordinances.

“Any reduction in law enforcement anywhere in this county is not good for the citizens,” Cole said. “We have an entire county to cover. Our guys are busy.” Cole added that Scottville Police Department often assists sheriff’s deputies and state police troopers on calls outside the city limits, which he finds valuable.

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