Why include Greenville in a Montcalm County sheriff’s millage?

By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 12:22 pm on Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Voters will decide whether to approve a 1 mill request to generate $1.5 million for Montcalm County sheriff’s coverage. — Daily News/Elisabeth Waldon

STANTON — Montcalm County residents are set to vote on a $1.5 million proposal to maintain and increase sheriff’s patrol coverage throughout the county, including in the city of Greenville.
The Greenville Department of Public Safety and the Montcalm County Sheriff’s Department are the only law enforcement agencies providing round-the-clock patrols in Montcalm County.
District 1 Commissioner Lloyd Walker, who represents the city of Greenville, supports the millage proposal, but wonders if his constituents will. He discussed the issue with Sheriff Bill Barnwell at Monday’s County Board of Commissioners meeting.
“My constituency is a little bit different than what the rest of them are,” Walker said. “The citizens of Greenville want more police protection than they can get from the sheriff’s department and, therefore, we have our own. How are you going to ask the people of Greenville to pay for additional police?”
Barnwell said he is not sure how to convince the city’s voters.
“I think the only way to go about it is to tell them this is a county tax. When they leave their area and travel around the county, we continue to provide support, as we did with the recent bank robbery in Greenville and the shooting in Greenville,” he said.
The Huntington Bank armed robbery, which occurred Nov. 9, and the shooting at the Flat River Inn & Suites, which occurred Nov. 12, both remain unsolved. The Sheriff’s Department assisted the Greenville Department of Public Safety at both incidents.
“Our officers are in the city of Greenville a lot,” Barnwell said. “It’s the biggest city in Montcalm County. We’re the only ones out there to back them up in a situation like that.”
Recently, two sheriff’s deputies were making a domestic violence arrest when a break-in in progress was reported.
“We just didn’t have anybody to send,” Barnwell said. “Clearly it was a case when a 10- or 15-minute difference in response could have made all the difference.”
District 2 Commissioner Tom Lindeman, who cast the lone vote against the proposal, admitted that he and Sheriff’s Det. Robert McVey backed up the Greenville Department of Public Safety three times in one day years ago. He also noted that Greenville police officers work double duty as firefighters too.
Lindeman represents Eureka and Fairplain townships, as well as a portion of the city of Greenville.

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