“AT LEAST A Day-Shift Road Patrol, using a 10-hour or 12-hour shift, is expected to be in operation about mid-July by the Shiawassee County Sheriff’s Office,” said Undersheriff Doug Powell during Tuesday’s Shiawassee Regional Chamber of Commerce Networking at Noon hosted by D’Mar Banquet and Conference Center, which opened a month ago.
“When we had to lay off 14 employees in cutting $1.5 million from our budget after the millage was turned down by voters Nov. 4, that meant by contract we had to eliminate all part-time employees who had been doing Courtroom, Courthouse and Jail security, so Road Patrol deputies were put in those jobs to meet the contracts,” said Powell. A cost of about $200,000 for part-time personnel quickly rose to about a $500,000 annual rate.
“After the Board of Commissioners agreed to transfer $80,000 from the Delinquent Tax Revolving Fund, we were able to plan on at least a day shift for Road Patrol and plan to call back our part-time Courtroom and Courthouse security.
“The Michigan State Police are working closely with us. We know that they are putting more troopers on the road and they are writing a lot more tickets. They have said they want to work with us when we get a day-shift Road Patrol operating. An MSP supervisor who had worked in this county when I began years ago has been up North and in some cases, one trooper and one sheriff’s deputy worked together on a shift since that’s all the staffing that was available. The MSP are willing to work with us.
“We’ve always had a very good relationship with the State Police. I know that last fall during the millage campaign (at the county for Road Patrol money) relationships with local police deteriorated. We’re hoping they improve.”
Undersheriff Powell said operating the Jail is a state requirement – and that Shiawassee County has 165 bed spaces, with more than 100 at the downtown Corunna jail and the rest at the Secondary Complex (historically known as the former Griffin Home for the Aged at the former Sawmill property) on N. Shiawassee across from the SRESD. “We had told the Michigan Department of Corrections we didn’t want to turn convicted sex offenders into the community on early-release programs, so we house them and rent the space to the state, supervise them and have them on a tether-release. When we have available bed space at the Jail, we also rent it to Genesee County and a Livonia prisoner transport company.” On Tuesday, for example, 14 beds were rented to Genesee County and 15 to the prisoner transport company. “We saw what happened in Genesee County when the jail didn’t have room and offenders only received a ticket and were told to show up in court, so there was no incentive not to commit crimes,” added Powell.
As for 2016: “We’ve turned in our budget packets and the commissioners will be going through them. We also know that the county’s 20-year operating millage authorization was approved 20 years ago, so it will be going to the voters.” (Independent Photo/BILL CONSTINE)