Additional deputies request may go on August ballot.

April 17, 2018

Additional deputies request may go on August ballot.

#MasonCountyCrime #MasonCountyNews.

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

LUDINGTON — The Mason County Board of Commissioners’ Finance Committee has approved Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole’s request to ask the voters to consider a millage request to increase the sheriff’s office’s road patrol by four deputies. The request will be considered by the full board during its regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, May 15 at 9 a.m. at the courthouse.

If approved by the board, the voters will be asked to approve a millage rate of up to .30 during the August 7 Primary Election. The millage duration would be for eight years.

The Sheriff has said previously that in order for the sheriff’s office to effectively do its job to protect the public, four more deputies need to be added.

“We need four more road patrol deputies to get us to a point where we can effectively fight crime and do our most to protect the public,” Sheriff Cole said, adding that in the 32 years he has worked for the sheriff’s office, the department has only increased by one deputy. There are currently 13 road patrol deputies.”
The millage would raise between $534,939 to $706,878 during its duration. According to estimates from County Administrator Fabian Knizacky, the 2019 would require $706,878, or .38 mill. The Finance Committee voted to use $150,000 from the general fund — contingent on the millage passing — for the first year to offset costs and keep the millage rate at or below .30.

“The times have changed. We don’t have the same types of crimes that we used to have,” Cole said. “While the complaint numbers are not significantly up, the time we spend on complaints has greatly increased.”

Cole said when he took office in 2013, the sheriff’s office had a 24 percent clearance rate on cases; the office now has a 65 percent clearance rate. A clearance rate is calculated by dividing the number of crimes that are “cleared” (a charge being laid) by the total number of crimes recorded. Clearance rates are used by various groups as a measure of crimes solved by the police.

“The increase in clearance rates is a result of allowing our deputies the time they need to work on complaints,” Cole said. “It used to be that the deputies would just run from call to call without getting the chance to actually work on a case. We now give the shift supervisors the authority to call in other personnel to work overtime while the deputies are working on cases.

“We need to increase our staffing in order to properly do our jobs,” Cole said. “We have stepped up our efforts of trying to make US 10 a safer highway and we are doing everything we can to fight the drug problem, especially when it comes to drugged drivers. But, we need more personnel to adequately do that.” Cole said the county has seen an over 40% increase in drug related driving incidences since 2007.

Cole said the four additional deputies would work the road full time during the summer months. During the school year, one of the deputies would then serve as a school resource officer at Mason County Central, Mason County Eastern, and Covenant Christian schools. Another officer would work on investigating computer crimes.

“The majority of the crimes that we investigate have an electronic element to them and it’s necessary to have an officer work in that area,” Cole said, adding that both officers would remain in uniform and be available in emergency and overtime situations.

The cost to increase the sheriff’s office roster by four personnel would be between $167,818 to $176,719 per additional deputy annually. This would not only include wages and benefits but also the purchase of an additional patrol car per deputy and equipping that deputy with weapons, protective gear, radio, computer equipment, and other items.

This story and photograph are copyrighted © 2017, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.

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