Montcalm County law enforcement millage fails

By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 2:11 am on Wednesday, November 07, 2012

STANTON — Despite continued crime throughout Montcalm County, voters decided to turn down a proposal in support of local law enforcement millage.

A 0.6 millage proposal to generate $971,830 per year for two years for the Montcalm County Sheriff’s Office was shot down Tuesday by 11,647 “yes” votes (48 percent) compared to 12,735 “no” votes (52 percent).

If approved, the millage would have helped restore and maintain sheriff’s department coverage throughout Montcalm Çounty, including 24/7 road patrol coverage, which stopped Oct. 1 after countywide budget cuts. Three laid-off deputies, including a court deputy, could have also been rehired, along with the positions of recently retired deputy and a sergeant.

The Greenville Department of Public Safety is now the only 24/7 road patrol agency in Montcalm County.

Sheriff Bill Barnwell and Undersheriff Mark Bellinger could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Barnwell previously told The Daily News the sheriff’s office must respond to “calls for service” according to the Michigan Constitution. However, Barnwell said there are varying arguments about the definition of calls for service.

“This is a real public safety issue,” Barnwell previously told The Daily News. “I’m worried not only about the safety of the public, but also the safety of my officers.”

According to Barnwell, Montcalm County has not previously gone without 24/7 coverage since the 1960s.

A previous Montcalm County law enforcement millage request for $1.564 million over five years failed by 120 votes last February.

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