By Graham Sturgeon, staff writer
The Byron Village Council is scheduled to hold their monthly meeting Monday, Aug. 10, and the village’s police department will be the hot topic of the evening.
The council will present retiring chief Tim Sampey with a commemorative badge for his eight-plus years of service to the village, but the session does not end there. Village attorney John Gormley has prepared a resolution concerning the police department that should also be discussed during the meeting, if not voted upon.
The resolution calls for the entire police force to be “terminated,” with the newly-appointed chief to pick his or her own staff. Who that new chief will be is still in question, but it is clear that Sergeant Ryan Wilburn and Officer Lex Crooks will be the two main candidates. The village intends to post the vacancy externally, but those are the two candidates who have been mentioned as of now.
The resolution also calls for the department to be allotted 40 total hours per week, with the chief working 20 of those. The village allowed for 50 hours per week in their 2015-2016 budget, with roughly $20,000 being devoted to the department for the fiscal year.
It has been reported that council members Hugh Miller and Tony Prestonise were behind the proposed resolution, but they have denied direct involvement. Prestonise admits that the two met with Gormley, but he informed The Independent that it was Gormley who created the language.
“John told Hugh and I that he would like to meet concerning the future of the police department, so we drove out to Fowlerville to talk with him,” Prestonise said. “We did not tell him what to put in the resolution; he said he thought he knew what everyone wanted, so he would draw it up himself.”
Miller said after the village’s July 28 special meeting that he thinks Wilburn would be the man for the job, at least on an interim basis. He said that there have been no guarantees made to Wilburn, but that Wilburn’s commitment to the village has been commendable.
“Ryan has been with the village for a long time and he has gone above and beyond the call of duty,” Miller said. “He recently got us new bulletproof vests and a new computer for the police department without any cost to the village. He is a good, honest man, and he cares about this community. He knows the job and the residents, and that goes a long way in a community like Byron.”
The idea of an independent hiring committee has also been proposed over the last few weeks, but details have been hard to come by on that. The proposed committee would likely include five members who would have no direct ties to the village or its council members. The decision of that independent committee would then be voted upon by the council, pending President Kit Brunell’s approval.
Miller was quick to point out that a decision does not have to be made immediately on the future of the police department, but it is a good bet that the council will have a discussion over the resolution on Aug. 10. Either way though, the night’s meeting will be a ceremonious night for the village’s police department. Sampey is expected to be on hand to receive his tribute and to say goodbye to the village one last time. And while the councilmembers may not agree on much these days, they all appreciate the time and effort that Sampey has put into the village.