BY DOUG DONNELLY
OTTAWA LAKE – Whiteford Township moved one step closer Tuesday to having a deputy sheriff on duty in the township for at least 40 hours a week.
The Whiteford Township Board voted 4-1 at its regular board meeting to allow Supervisor Walter Ruhl to continue to move forward with negotiations and discussions of a deal that involves the City of Petersburg and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department and having a deputy stationed in Whiteford starting Jan. 1.
“I think it’s a win-win,” Ruhl said at Tuesday’s board meeting.
The deal in the works calls for Whiteford Township to pay $25,000, plus about $100 a month for an office, and a monthly Internet fee on a secure network. In return, Monroe County Sheriff Dale Malone will station a deputy in the township 40 hours a week. The office will be in the Michigan Technical Resource Park, or former Dana World Headquarters in southwest Whiteford Township – the same place that Whiteford Township has its offices.
“I don’t see a downside to this,” Ruhl said. “We will have a whole year for $25,000. It looks like a win-win to me.”
The township has discussed the issue numerous times for the past couple of years. Currently, the township relies on the Monroe County sheriff and Michigan State Police for police protection in its community. It does not contract with the sheriff to have its own deputies, an arrangement that several townships, such as Bedford Township, have in place.
The discussion intensified a couple of years ago when the board began discussing the role of its two elected constables in the community.
Ruhl has kept the issue alive at board meetings since, frequently stating he was in favor of getting a larger police presence in the township. Lack of funding and the potential annual cost of more than $110,000 – including the cost of a deputy, police car and an office – kept the issue just in the discussion stage, however.
In recent months, Ruhl has been talking to the Monroe County Sheriff Dale Malone, however, about this plan to bring a deputy by sharing some costs. The most recent plan – discussed in a meeting with Ruhl, Malone and officials from the City of Petersburg and Summerfield Township this week – would see Whiteford Township contributing $25,000 for one year and getting a deputy in the township for an unspecified 40 hours a week.
The $25,000 essentially will help Petersburg pay for its 40-hour a week officer. The city had considered dropping its deputy because in its upcoming budget it feels it cannot afford the cost. Whiteford’s $25,000 will make up its budget shortfall. In return, Sheriff Malone told Ruhl that he would provide Whiteford with a different deputy for 40 hours a week.
“It gives the township residents a chance to see if they want a sheriff’s deputy in our township in the future or not, and it only will cost us $25,000,” Ruhl said.
Township Treasurer Tim Hill, Clerk Angie Christensen and Trustee Bernice Heidelberg all voted in favor of the plan, with Ruhl. Trustee Don Sahloff voted no.
“For what it will do for the township, for $27,000, you can’t beat it,” Hill said.
Heidelberg, a former township clerk and supervisor, agreed.
“I think it’s a wonderful idea,” she said. “I’ve wanted to get a sheriff in our community for a long time.”
– Posted Oct. 16, 2013