Scottville public safety committee to discuss police dept.

April 29, 2013

SCOTTVILLE — The Scottville public safety committee is scheduled to meet Tuesday afternoon and there is only one agenda item: the police department.

The City of Scottville currently has an agreement with the City of Ludington in which the Ludington police chief and captain oversee administration of Scottville’s police department. Ludington Police Department also offers the service of its detective when needed. This agreement was first made in January 2011 and is in effect until December of this year.

However, Chief Mark Barnett has requested the contract be changed at the beginning of next year. Barnett has asked that Ludington take over all police services with Scottville, to allow for more accountability, training and consistency. Though finances have never been formally discussed, with the exception of estimates, Scottville City Manager Amy Williams said the change would cost Scottville more money, which it cannot afford.

“The estimated numbers they gave were so much higher than we can even try to consider, and those were on the low end,” she said.

In response, the Scottville public safety committee has been considering alternative options including hiring a part-time chief or contracting with the Mason County Sheriff’s Department.

Sheriff Kim Cole approached the city and made an offer of providing about 40 hours of coverage. Scottville would provide a car and would also maintain a full-time officer and part-time officers.

One of the issues that would have to be worked out with that option is enforcement of Scottville’s ordinances. Currently sheriff’s deputies can only enforce state laws, not city laws. For example, a barking dog or loud music complaint in the city, can only be handled by a city officer.

The current police budget is $153,002, which includes $30,000 to Ludington.

The public safety committee is considering two scenarios with the sheriff’s department. One option is hiring a part-time police chief and keeping two full time officers and part-time officers. Williams estimates this option would mean an almost $10,000 a year savings in the budget.

The two sheriff’s department estimates include Scottville keeping one full-time officer and various part-time officer coverage. The first would cost $141,379 with $65,000 budgeted for the sheriff’s department and $20,118 budgeted for a part-time officer working three six-hour shifts.

The second sheriff’s option would cost $145,163 with $65,000 budgeted for the sheriff’s department. Part-time officer coverage would cost $23,862 working three eight-hour shifts.

Option three is hiring a part-time chief and continuing to operate the department as is.

Recently the committee interviewed two people for a possible part-time police chief position. They included Donald Riley of Walhalla and Dennis Richards of Grandville. Tom Trenner of Custer Township withdrew his application from the process.

Riley is a retired detective sergeant/patrol officer from Deartborn Heights Police Department; 29 years experience. Richards is a sergeant on the Grandville Police Department with 30 years of experience.

The committee meets at 5:30 p.m. at city hall. The meeting is open to the public.


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