Washtenaw County: 5 police chief jobs vacant as role sees 'unprecedented turnover'
- Related story: Ann Arbor Police Chief Barnett Jones resigns
The retirement of Barnett Jones as chief of Ann Arbor's police department brings the total number of open chief positions in Washtenaw County to five.
Angela J. Cesere | AnnArbor.com
The effect is "unprecedented turnover," said Bob Stevenson, executive director of the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police in Okemos.
In Washtenaw County, the openings for police chief include:
- Saline, where Paul Bunten just retired.
- Milan, where Jeff Lewis left to take a job in Muskegon.
- Eastern Michigan University, where Bob Heighes remains interim chief as administration sifts through applications in preparation for interviews.
- University of Michigan, which assigned Deputy Police Chief Joe Piersante to the interim role for the second time after the late Greg O'Dell left the job after a few months.
Stevenson said police officers enter the profession "knowing they won't get rich."
He continued: "We exchanged low pay for better benefits for our whole career, but at the end of our career, they’re changing (things)."
One example: When existing contracts expire, public employees will have to pay 20 percent of health care costs after legislation passed in 2011.
"Many people who are eligible to retire have to retire," Stevenson said.
"We are seeing a lot of turnover," he said. "They worked their whole career for those benefits."
While Stevenson stressed that he doesn't know whether that circumstance played a role in Jones' decision, he said the wave of retirements is compounded on the other end of the job spectrum by the lack of qualified applicants for the open positions.
Among other retirement impact in area police departments: Nine officers retired in 2011 from Ann Arbor, representing 205 years of experience. And in Ypsilanti, nine of 30 officers - about 1/3 of the department - could leave its ranks this year.