By Graham Sturgeon, co-editor
The Byron Village Council met Monday, March 14 for the council’s regular monthly meeting, and the subject of police coverage again dominated conversation. The council did not vote to reinstate the suspended Byron Police Department (BPD) or to contract with an outside agency, but Byron Village President Kit Brunell is hoping the decision comes soon.
“The council will not accept any recommendation I make, so it is up to them to make a decision about how to proceed with the police situation,” Brunell said Wednesday, March 23. “Whether they decide to reinstate the Byron Police Department or to go with an outside agency, the decision needs to be based on what is best for the village and not on personal agendas. It has been two months since the village has had a consistent police presence, so this needs to happen soon.”
The council voted January 11 to “temporarily suspend” the BPD, and the Shiawassee County Sheriff Department (SCSD) and the Durand Police Department (DPD) have both expressed interest in filling the void with dedicated patrols. The council tasked the village’s personnel committee, which is comprised of trustees Ron Berecz, Janet Cole and Tony Prestonise, with bringing a recommendation to the council. Brunell expects the council to make a decision during the April 11 meeting.
Byron Village Council members had expressed their dissatisfaction with the Byron Police Department following former chief Tim Sampey’s retirement in August of 2015, which led trustee Hugh Miller to ask Byron Clerk Marsha Reed during the Dec. 14 meeting to contact the SCSD about taking over for the BPD. Trustee Duncan Orr made the motion during the Jan. 11 meeting to temporarily suspend the department, and the motion was approved unanimously. The SCSD has stepped up patrols in the Byron area since January, but council members and residents alike are anxious to get dedicated police coverage back in the village. Brunell reported during the March 14 meeting that the village has seen an increase in breaking and entering complaints, and that excessive speeding “has turned Saginaw St. into a drag strip.”
The council began interviewing candidates for the police chief position in September of 2015, but a harassment complaint made by a former village employee, and the subsequent investigation into the matter, stalled the hiring process.
The Monday, April 11 meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the Byron Village Hall.