Police contracts between Montcalm County and townships OK’d

By Cory Smith • Last Updated 11:19 am on Thursday, January 31, 2013

STANTON — After agreements on police protection provided by the Montcalm County Sheriff’s Office were reached by Crystal, Eureka, Montcalm and Sidney townships late in 2012, the Montcalm County Board of Commissioners has officially approved the contracts between the four townships and the sheriff’s office to assign deputies to the respective townships.

The contracts were agreed upon by the board in November and awaited approval from each township in December.

With officials from each township agreeing to renew the contracts, county commissioners voted unanimously Monday to officially accept the three separate contracts.

Eureka Township will continue to be assigned two deputies, while Crystal Township will be assigned one deputy and another deputy will split time between Montcalm and Sidney townships.

Each township agreed to pay the county $71,000 per deputy annually, with Montcalm and Sidney townships splitting the cost of their assigned deputy evenly.

The sheriff’s office will provide 80 hours of police services per two-week pay period per deputy, with an average of on-hour round trip travel per workday.

Montcalm County Controller-Adminstrator Chris Hyzer mentioned the only difference between the contracts and the respective townships is the length of the contracts.

“The only thing different with the Crystal Township police contract is that it is for one year, the other two will be for three years.”

Crystal Township’s contract will expire Dec. 31, 2013, with the contracts for Eureka, Montcalm and Sidney townships expiring on Dec. 31, 2015.

Commissioner John Johansen of Montcalm Township said that concerns have been raised in Montcalm and Sidney townships over how shifts will be split being that Montcalm County remains without 24/7 road patrol coverage.

“I know there was discussion at both Montcalm and Sidney (townships) concerning shift time,” he said. “I know (Sheriff Bill Barnwell) has promised to follow up on that.”

Johansen added that the timing of certain shifts sometimes adds difficulty to the deputies’ duties.

“Out there in the township … it’s pretty hard to do things if your shift time begins in the late afternoon and ends in the middle of the night,” he said. “They are looking for some sort of mix with that. They lack the hours for certain times as well.”

Sheriff Barnwell has said in previous meetings that his officers are working hard to fill in the gaps, with even Undersheriff Mark Bellinger and Lt. Steve Russell doing road patrol themselves.

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