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Posted on Thu, Feb 18, 2010 : 6:02 a.m.

Washtenaw County sheriff guides $2 million turnaround first year in office

By Ryan J. Stanton

Recapping his first year in office, Washtenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton detailed a nearly $2 million turnaround in the sheriff's department - a combination of nearly $1 million in reduced operating expenses and $1 million in enhanced revenue.

Clayton gave a "state of the office" presentation Wednesday night to the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners.


Sheriff Jerry Clayton addresses the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday night.

Ryan J. Stanton |

"This has very little to do with me as sheriff and more to do with our staff," Clayton said. "The deputy sheriffs, the corrections officers, the people in the business office, the dispatchers - really it's their efforts and the work that they've put in that allowed us to meet a lot of the goals that we set."

Clayton, a former sheriff's department commander who retired with 20 years experience, stepped into office in January 2009, determined to change the way business is done in the sheriff's department. Clayton put an end to the tumultuous tenure of former sheriff Dan Minzey by beating him by more than 4,300 votes in the 2008 Democratic primary.

One of Clayton's goals was to reduce overtime costs by $1 million. Addressing the Board of Commissioners Wednesday night, Clayton highlighted a 36 percent reduction in overtime hours in his first year - a drop from 71,829 to 45,862 from 2008 to 2009.

The costs associated with those hours decreased from about $2.5 million to $1.5 million during that time.

"We did that by really continuing our organizational assessment, trying to find out where the leaks are," Clayton said. "We challenged old assumptions about how you deploy your staff and the best strategies for doing so."

For example, Clayton said, he took a hard look at corrections operations and staffing levels for each shift.

"There were three posts that we identified as nonessential that we really didn't have the staffing for," he said. "So understanding that, we were really staffing those posts on overtime, straight overtime on a continual basis. So we said, well, first what we'll do is we'll eliminate those posts on a trial basis."

It worked out and saved money, he said.

According to Clayton, revenue generated by the sheriff's department increased from $13.4 million to $14.4 million from 2008 to 2009.

Despite cutting back on operational costs, the overall expense budget actually held steady, coming in just under $40 million both years. Salaries and fringe benefits rose from $25.5 million to $26.4 million. 

But other operating costs, including overtime, decreased from $13.1 million to $12.2 million. Money spent on uniforms and guns went from $360,947 to $510,802.

During his report, Clayton talked about his 10 Points of Change, which he campaigned on two years ago:

  1. Implement an operational service delivery program.
  2. Create a Sheriff’s Office Youth Engagement Initiative.
  3. Establish an early intervention system.
  4. Implement a fiscal management system.
  5. Create an employee training and professional development program.
  6. Implement inmate behavior management and community policing.
  7. Implement a comprehensive and objective employee evaluation program.
  8. Implement an inmate population management plan.
  9. Conduct a service delivery assessment and survey process.
  10. Implement a public performance reporting program.

"The 10 points are aligned with our vision and our mission," Clayton told commissioners. "They are concrete targets that we've identified in the four-year term. And our belief is that, if we accomplish these 10 points, then we will fulfill our mission in the first four years of the sheriff's office."

Clayton said the department is embarking on a new operational philosophy. He talked about efforts to collaborate and align resources.

"Our success as an office - the foundation is not just us," he said. "It's who we partner with and how we partner with them. And I'll give you one example: The Ypsilanti dispatch initiative that we engaged with the city on. We are now dispatching services to the city of Ypsilanti. I've received feedback from the chief ... from other officials in the city and a couple residents actually, and the transition went smoothly."

Clayton said his priorities right now revolve around the county's jail expansion and rolling out a new police services cost model.

The county is in the process of adding 112 beds to the 332-bed jail at 2201 Hogback Road. Washtenaw County's jail is the smallest per capita of all the county jails in Michigan, which has led to overcrowding challenges in recent years.

Commissioner Barbara Levin Bergman, D-8th District, said mental health services - including substance abuse treatment - are an important component of the county's response to individuals who enter the criminal justice system. She said it's a challenge since state funding for those services is being reduced.

Commissioner Jeff Irwin, D-11th District, said he's concerned that about two-thirds of the county's jail population is black. U.S. Census Bureau statistics show only 12 percent of the county residents are black.

"The real question starts to become, well, what is the genesis of the disparity?" Clayton said. "Is it because one particular group is more prone to this type of behavior? I would argue no. Is it a socioeconomic issue? I would argue yeah, that's a part of it."

Irwin said he hopes to see recidivism rates go down.

"We have, at least from the last data I saw, a recidivism rate whereby 70 percent of the people who are currently in the county jail are going to be back within two years," he said. "What's driving our out-of-control number of guests out there at Hogback is repeat customers."

Clayton said his administration is taking two approaches to reducing recidivism rates in Washtenaw County.

"We have to be able to accurately assess risk, so those folks that need to be in jail that are a serious threat to community safety should be in jail," he said. "But I would argue a lot of the folks that are in our county jail right now wouldn't pass that risk test, so there needs to be alternatives to incarceration ... whether it's tether, work program, work release - whatever those are, they have to be sound programs that the courts have confidence in."

But there's a larger root cause, according to Clayton.

"A lot of those folks that are in our jail have other issues, be it substance abuse, be it employment issues, be it education issues, be it all those things," he said. "And we don't address those things on an ongoing basis."

Clayton told commissioners he has been in talks with county administrators about the level of staffing needed in the near future for the expanded jail. That will be the topic of a working session on March 18, and the sheriff could come back with a proposal in April that would require board action.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government for Reach him at or 734-623-2529.


Basic Bob

Sat, Feb 20, 2010 : 2:44 p.m.

Alcohol abuse is a drug addiction just like any other, unless you still cling to the belief that it is different just because the government collects tax on it. Effective substance abuse treatment encourages addicts to avoid not only illegal drug houses but also bars, liquor stores, and pharmacy counters. Although it does not work for everyone, treatment is an important part of the long-term strategy to reduce crime. I'm pleased that Sheriff Clayton is taking this approach.


Fri, Feb 19, 2010 : 8:59 p.m.

EyeheartA2: I'm sorry that you feel everything has to be "twisted and contorted into race" and, "it is getting old and busted." Perhaps you live on a different planet than many of us do who have a vested interest in seeing that the life outcomes for African Americans are drastically improved. When you have a a jail population in which 2/3 of its population are African American and this group only represents 12% of the county's general population, you too should be asking yourself the question as to whether this group is more prone to commit crime or whether there are other factors, such as socio economics, lack of opportunity, indifferent judges toward this population group, overzealous prosecutors who want to present an image of being "tough on crime", poor legal representation or whether the African American community is indifferent to their plight and doesn't see a need to take constructive action to address it so we don't have such an imbalance.


Fri, Feb 19, 2010 : 7:34 a.m.

I coulldn't agree more Zulu. It is the national system of looking at addiction that needs to be changed. My point was that Sherriff Clayton can only have limited success until we voters stand up to address the larger issue.


Thu, Feb 18, 2010 : 7:28 p.m.

Sheriff Clayton, we're proud of you! Thank you for your service and accountability.


Thu, Feb 18, 2010 : 6:33 p.m.

Awakened: I think you hit upon a couple good suggestions and I would like to add to this by pointing out that African Americans often appear before judges, prosecutors and public defenders who are actually indifferent to the life outcomes for these individuals other than to put them away knowing that there is no true rehabilitation taking place while these individuals are incarcerated. I am a true believer that if many of these individuals were given high quality substance abuse treatment and counseling coupled with appropriate support services, hope and supportive community, the need to use drugs would drastically decline. The problem is that just like there is an excessive amount of money in the illicit drug trade, there is a tremendous amount of tax dollars used to incarcerate (warehouse) these individuals. The only true beneficiaries of this setup are the professionals who earn their livelihood from keeping certain population groups engaged in the system. That's why you will never have effective programs targeting this vulnerable population group. Until the community demands results from the current set up, expect to get more of the same. I think the best hope that we have of addressing this problem is Sheriff Clayton who seem to have an understanding of what to do. His ten point plan includes the creation of a "Youth Engagement Initiative" and in "establishing an early intervention program." I hope that he engages people in this process who feels comfortable interacting with the community and are sensitive to and understand the unique issues that many African American face. However, keep in mind that he is still the chief law enforcement official for the county and his first obligation is to arrest and jail offenders of the law.


Thu, Feb 18, 2010 : 6:16 p.m.

@steve339. I agree there are abusers of alcohol who don't want treatment and the same will apply to drugs. But there isn't enough treatment opportunities for alcoholics either. If you are covered by health care or wealthy your okay. But if you are poor you are out of luck. And if you keep using you will be poor and never have the help you need when the desire to quit happens.

Rhe Buttle

Thu, Feb 18, 2010 : 2 p.m.

@ Local - the source of revenue for any law enforcement office is always Fines, Tickets, Licenses and Forfeitures. Ocassionally there is grant money to be added in, don't know if they received one this year. You will find that many sheriff's offices in Michigan register firearms at a fee of $5 to $10. Some sheriff's offices issue dog licenses, etc. The biggest windfall is usually forfeiture - someone making or selling illegal things can have their homes and vehicles seized. It only takes selling a few homes at auction to reach $1 Million, cars can add up quickly too - if you are in California.


Thu, Feb 18, 2010 : 1:27 p.m.

After reading the county's response on the source of "increased revenues," these items sound more like "decreased expenditures." Is someone trying to relabel them? Ryan: What impact does the newer contract with local governments for deputies have on controlling overtime costs? My recollection from previous articles on MLive was that before 2009, the county bore the entire cost of any overtime used by the locals. In other words, there was no disincentive for the locals to incur overtime since the county just paid it annually as a deficit. I don't know this for certain though. Add to that a previous sheriff who never said no, and it was a mess.


Thu, Feb 18, 2010 : 1:13 p.m.

I am also asking: where did the extra $1M revenue come from????


Thu, Feb 18, 2010 : 1:05 p.m.

He may have lost the election but Minzey got a $90,000 a year retirement with benefits from the County.

Ryan J. Stanton

Thu, Feb 18, 2010 : 1 p.m.

Somebody asked about revenues. Here's an explanation from Gregory Dill, administrative operations director for the sheriff's department: The Office of the Sheriff increased revenue for fiscal year 2009 is a function of operational philosophy and programmatic changes in the following areas: New Civil Division - This is the result of a move away from contracting through an external vendor to an in-house delivery of the service. The resulting change has produced a net increase in revenue and an enhanced service delivery model. Increased Overtime Reimbursement for Sheriff Services - We have experienced a growth in reimbursement for Sheriff Services as compared to FY 2008 actual. Increased collections of Inmate Reimbursements - The Office has changed its operational philosophy and improved its collections architecture resulting in an increase in revenue from the State when compared to FY- 2008.


Thu, Feb 18, 2010 : 12:27 p.m.

LOL. so the jurors are to blame now. Not those committing the crimes? Yeah, that explains the problem. No accountability. The drug dealer made me addicted. The cops arrested me. The jury convicted me. Bad bad prosecutors. How about you messed up. Deal with it and move on. Bad behavior is not readily rewarded, as it shouldn't be. Wouldn't be fair for those of us who abide the law.

Atticus F.

Thu, Feb 18, 2010 : 10:13 a.m.

Good job sheriff Clayton. Sounds like things are moving alot more smoothly than in the past. BTW steve339, we have also had alot of peoples lives that were saved by alcohol treatment.

Lifelong A2

Thu, Feb 18, 2010 : 9:45 a.m.

This is further proof that Dan Minzey was the wrong man for the job. All his rhetoric blaming others for the Sheriff Department's financial problems has been proven completely false. This is great news for the County, particularly during these tough times. Keep it up, Sheriff Clayton!


Thu, Feb 18, 2010 : 9:19 a.m.

What is "$1 million in enhanced revenue"?? Enhanced?? @Awakened "End the criminalization of drugs. Treat the users." Won't work. Alcohol is legal, there are still abusers. Not even Dr Phil can help someone who DOESN'T want the help.


Thu, Feb 18, 2010 : 9:14 a.m.

What is the source of the reported $1 million in "enhanced revenue"?


Thu, Feb 18, 2010 : 9:05 a.m.

Perhaps the high incarceration rate is due to folks like UMich2008 being on the juries? No offese UMich, but people with privelage don't see that anymore than a fish sees water. Actually, it is far more likely that the disparate average income and health benefits mean that far more African-Americans cannot get substance abuse treatment. And if they do return to a neighborhood where the local distributor is putting the addictive substance on every corner. Once arrested and convicted Michigan's meager job market is virtually closed. Despair leads to relapse; leads to addiction; leads to crime to pay for the addiction. So the cycle continues. Sad. The pervasiveness of statistical anomolies based upon skin-color shows that a problem exists. End the criminalization of drugs. Treat the users. That will put the dealers out of business.


Thu, Feb 18, 2010 : 8:31 a.m.

Kudos to Sheriff Clayton. What a difference a change in leadership has made in the Sheriff Department in one year! The man has a plan and he understands law enforcement. I would like to thank outgoing Commissioner Jeff Irwin for raising the concern about the composition of the jail population being two third African American. You would think that Commissioners Roland Sizemore and Ronnie Peterson whose districts includes the largest number of African Americans would have raised this question. Based on my crude calculations, if there was a 10-15% reduction in the African American jail population in one year, the county could save between 1-1.5 Millions dollars. Of course, this could mean a reduction in jobs as well. Commissioner Sizemore has promised under the new county administration to "take the county apart and put it back together." Perhaps part of his verbosity should include a plan to address the high incarceration rate of citizens in his district. I'm sure Sheriff Clayton would welcome the opportunity to work with Commissioners Sizemore and Peterson and any leadership in the African American community to address this problem.


Thu, Feb 18, 2010 : 8:27 a.m.

Isn't it amazing: the county now has a new contract with local governments that requires them to pay for any deputy overtime costs, and these costs suddenly go down last year. Is it really a surprise that the OT costs are now down, just as it wasn't a surprise that before the costs were out of control when local governments didn't have to pay for OT?

dading dont delete me bro

Thu, Feb 18, 2010 : 8:26 a.m.

so now they can patrol ypsilanti township? do they still need to lay off that many officers...?


Thu, Feb 18, 2010 : 7:38 a.m.

An easy way to cut overtime costs is to stop allowing it. I'm sure anyone can justify why they need to keep working. That is their job.


Thu, Feb 18, 2010 : 7:13 a.m.

Good Job, Sherriff Clayton! Now the rest of us have to do our job to end the "War on Drugs" and spend that money on treatment.