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Posted on Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Ypsilanti denied nearly $1M grant for consolidation of police and fire departments

By Katrease Stafford


The city of Ypsilanti has been denied a $943,480 grant through the Michigan Department of Treasury.

Courtney Sacco |

Editor's note: This story has been updated with comments from former fire chief Jon Ichescho.

The city of Ypsilanti was denied a nearly $1 million Michigan Department of Treasury grant that would have gone toward the creation of a hybrid police and fire department, City Manager Ralph Lange confirmed.

Without the grant, it is unclear how the city will pay for the creation of the department, but some city officials believe it should still be pursued.

The city applied to receive $943,480 through the Competitive Grant Assistance Program, formerly known as the EVIP grant, from the state of Michigan on Dec. 3, 2012 and received word of the denial April 18.

“The city applied for an EVIP grant to assist in a study of improving police and fire functions," Lange said in a written statement to "The state did not approve our request. Although the city’s grant application was within the advertised criteria, the governor indicated that selection was based on collaboration and mergers with other municipalities. We are disappointed, but not discouraged. We will continue with our efforts to improve police and fire services for the city of Ypsilanti.”

Ypsilanti fire union representative Ken Hobbs said a committee comprised of fire representatives from across the state, including former Ypsilanti Fire Chief Jon Ichesco, was put together to recommend effective and efficient practices for fire services.

"The Ypsilanti plan did not have a risk analysis prior to my retirement with a single component of reductions and a shift of resources to law enforcement for a short period of time until additional cuts will be required," Ichesco told "That is the key reason I support a regional approach to fire service. "

The Ypsilanti hybrid model would cross-train police officers to perform firefighter duties and firefighters would have the option to be cross-trained as well.

Hobbs said the committee received approval from Gov. Rick Snyder's office to present before members of the treasury department.

"They put this committee together and showed this wasn’t the way to go," Hobbs said. "They showed it wasn’t cost-savings effective. I think our unions did a huge thing showing it's not effective. This is probably not the best way to spend the state's money."

According to Hobbs, the city only can apply for the grant once per year.

"He could have applied for regionalization, but Mr. Lange was not interested in it," Hobbs said. "He put his eggs in one basket."

Several firefighters and Ichesco openly have voiced their opposition to the hybrid model and urged the city to move forward with regionalization.


City Manager Ralph Lange, pictured left, and Mayor Paul Schreiber, right, have said the hybrid model would help the city regain its financial footing.

Courtney Sacco I

The denied grant application states the city planned to hire four new officers, who will be cross-trained, and do four "conversions" of current officers in 2015 and four conversions in 2016.

For each subsequent year until 2016, the city will cross-train another four officers, bringing the total to 20 cross-trained officers by 2016.

"This EVIP grant application is provided to cover the anticipated cost of cross-training each of these personnel and cover the costs of providing the necessary equipment and gear for a cross-trained police officer or firefighter to perform both duties," the city wrote.

About $4 million will be awarded to 11 Michigan communities through the Competitive Grant Assistance Program. The program is designed to offset costs related to the consolidation or sharing of services between local units of government.

"How are you going to come up with this money out of your pocket?" Hobbs said. "That's my whole thing. I would hope that city council takes a long hard look at this and see if this is going to be the most efficient and financially responsible decision. I don’t think this is the best thing for the city moving forward. Without this money coming from the state, it’s a horrible way to do to business. It doesn’t work."

Ypsilanti Mayor Paul Schreiber said he supports the creation of the hybrid model.

"I am in favor of it and it is probably the most efficient (model)," Schreiber said. "... We are woefully understaffed and right now we're burning people up."

"Currently, police officers and firefighters perform only the duties required by that position," the city wrote.

"At this time, police only staff at three on a shift for day road patrols and four on shift or night road patrols. At that level, any time a police officer is off duty for at reason, overtime is required, canceling out any savings from reduced personnel. On the fire side, current shifts are down to four officers which is the bare minimum staffing level for structural fires, this potentially makes responding to EMS and other calls more difficult... Further staffing cuts are increasing costs, rather than reducing them."

Schreiber said the hybrid model will allow the city to staff up to a needed level and maintain city services.

"No matter how it works out, we're going to have to start paying for the services," Schreiber said. "From what I can tell, it would let us deliver to closely the same level of services. We have lost a number of people in the fire and police departments through resignations and retirements."

According to documents sent to the treasury, the city is expecting the hybrid model will save about $2.1 million during the next five years.

The documents state the city approximately will spend $663,480 during the next four years to train new and existing officers, about $75,000 on uniforms and equipments, as well as several other fees totaling the requested grant amount of $943,480. The city believes it will find about $210,315 in short-term savings in one year or less and save $2,103,153 throughout the next five years.

The city said estimated annual long-term savings will amount to $420,631. A full conversion to the hybrid model is expected by 2016, according to the documents.


Costs of the potential hybrid department are outlined in the chart above.

Courtesy photo

"While the there are other alternatives to the hybrid public safety model for delivering police and fire services, none of them are feasible or desirable," the city wrote. "In 2008, the city participated with six other jurisdictions on a feasibility study for regional policy authority. That effort has stalled, as have discussions with Ypsilanti Township regarding a joint police authority. In lieu of a multi-jurisdicitional police and or fire authority, the alternatives include further reducing service levels which area already stressed to the limit."

Officials said if the grant were received, it would have paid for a large chunk of the hybrid model. How it will now be funded is not known.

Schreiber referred funding questions to Lange, but said city officials are responsible for looking at how operations will the impact the city long-term and not just the immediate future.

"My job as a policymaker is to look into the future and see what's best in the future," Schreiber said. "The hybrid safety model will have a dedicated fire department and police department that can do both."

Schreiber recalled a conversation with Police Chief Amy Walker a few years ago, in which she told him sometimes police officers arrive first on the scene and it would be helpful if they could respond to the fire.

Lange previously told Walker likely is a candidate to head the entire hybrid department.

"(Walker) said 'it would be nice if I had the gear to put it on and help with the fire, that would get the response quicker,'" Schreiber said. "I think it's good to have police officers cross-trained. We're not talking about cross-training firefighters against their will, we're giving them the option."

Lange is in the middle of collective bargaining with the various unions within the fire and police departments. The contracts must be settled before the hybrid model can be put fully in place.

Lange previously said the Police Officers Association of Michigan contract negotiations are moving along well, but the fire negotiations are moving "very slowly." The city council is expected to consider the POAM contract at its Tuesday meeting.

Click below for the full grant application:

Katrease Stafford covers Ypsilanti for her at or 734-623-2548 and follow her on twitter.


Ypsi Eastsider

Wed, Apr 24, 2013 : 4:36 a.m.

Schreiber and Lange used the same wonky accounting to justify the City Income Tax. Like the citizens of Ypsilanti did in rejecting the Income Tax, the Governor didn't buy the City's malarkey either about a combined department.


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 8:25 p.m.

Amazing! Pete Murdoch seems to forget that when he ran "Stop City Income Tax", he told everyone at his booth at Riverside Park at the Heritage Festival that there would be money and that Fire and Police cuts were unnecessary. Then he supported a tax. Now he just support cuts and PSO. What's your crystal ball say next Pete?

Depot Town

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 8:52 p.m.

As long as Pete puts the rec center in Waterworks Park, I'll be happy.


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 8:47 p.m.

That was 6 years ago Kurt. You can't hold that over Murdoch's head forever can you?


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 8:44 p.m.

You tell them Kurt!!!

hopeful joe

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 7:29 p.m.

I believe the loss of a 1 million dollar grant was becouse it was for regional collaboration with another fire department not to cross train police officers to be firefighters. I think city officals need to move on and maintain a fully staffed fire department and fully staffed police department. Lets not develope another water street mess the city can't afford to pay for on the backs of tax paying citizens who need a fully staffed fire and police department.


Wed, Apr 24, 2013 : 7:34 p.m.

They are just making the Police & Fire Depts. suffer to take the focus off of them wasting taxpayers money on that Water St. fiasco.


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 7:09 p.m.

Ypsi needs to put any ideas of a joint FD with Ypsi Twp. in the rearview and make it happen with Pittsfield Twp. A joint Ypsi City/Pittsfield Twp. fire department could be easily accomplished, much more easily than getting anything down with Ypsi Twp. officials, who keep pretending like they are interested in regional collaboration and then balking when it comes time to stop talking about it and actually get something accomplished. The current Pittsfield public safety director is a former YPD employee, everyone gets along, and it makes sense. It would have made more sense to do it before Lange decided to promote someone to Ypsi fire chief, but it can still be done. A joint Ypsi City/Pittsfield Twp. fire dept. makes sense, and it wouldn't cost a million dollars to accomplish.


Wed, Apr 24, 2013 : 7:31 p.m.

I would think the Pittsfield taxpayers would not like having their tax dollars going to bail out Ypsilanti. If I remember they voted an increase to their public safety millage to support their Police & Fire, not Ypsilanti's.

Pete Murdock

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 5:22 p.m.

Amazing!! Our Local Firefighters Union lobbies against the City's nearly $1M grant proposal that would assist in providing police and fire protection to City residents. All the while they have stonewalled any meaningful labor negotiations. Just Amazing!!


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 11:46 p.m.

Wake up, Pete! The labor negotiation "stonewalling" is coming directly from the professionals working their magic at city hall. Bravo!

Honest Abe

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 4:40 p.m.

Eh, we don't need the $1 million! We prefer spending $1M on a pool anyways.


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 3:48 p.m.

Look at the cost of police and there is a clear path to solvency. It's called regional. There are multiple local governments already collaborating on a regional policing model here in the county and its called the County Sheriff. Ask Pontiac what they think about giving up local control to the Oakland County Sheriff. More officers on the street and saved them tons of money.


Wed, Apr 24, 2013 : 5:24 p.m.

They don't "share the cost of a police agency," they pay for services rendered, and they have zero control or input on anything other than how many officers they want to pay for. Hardly a model of regional policing. Regional policing involves a representative governing board determining service levels, command structure, salaries, policies and procedures, etc. Contracting for services is about as far away from regional policing as you can get.


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 10:03 p.m.

Please review the last 15 years of police service contracts in Washtenaw County. Lol. 13 jurisdictions spanning the entire county sharing the cost of a police agency = regional.


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 7:15 p.m.

You apparently don't understand how a sheriff's dept. works, as it bears no resemblance whatsoever to a "regional policing model." The fact that there is no statutory obligation in this state for a sheriff to provide policing services to anybody also seems to have slipped by you.


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 2:50 p.m.

"The hybrid safety model will have a dedicated fire department and police department that can do both." Uhh, no. "Hybrid" means not dedicated. First we had Farmer's Folly, now we have Schreiber's Stupidity. Lange = bad hire.


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 1:48 p.m.

I think it's time for Ypsilanti to start looking for a new city manager.............

Katrease Stafford

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 1:45 p.m.

To answer a commenter's questions above: Monroe has a full-time fire department, supplemented by trained police officers. Monroe has 12 full-time firefighters under the direction of one chief, along with 32 cross-trained officers. The police department has 56 officers in total. Monroe has sort of a hybrid model. Kalamazoo has a full-fledged public safety model, which cross-trains both the police and fire departments.Kalamazoo has the largest public safety department in the state of Michigan and I believe it's also one of the largest in the country. They have more than 280 cross-trained officers/firefighters. I've been told that there are communities where this has not worked and they ended up going back to the original model of just having two entirely separate departments. In Benton Harbor, the fire union is calling for an end to their public safety dept. Here's a link to a story about it: However, there are success stories as well.The Kalamazoo model seems to work well for that city. As far as the additional training costs, the city told the treasury that it would cost a little more than $663,000 to train/cross-train. In a previous story I wrote, I had a chart, from SEMCOG, I believe, that broke down the costs. It would cost about $33,000 each to cross-train officers and about $31,000 to cross train firefighters. As for your last questions about consequences, I'm not sure, but I'll be following this as it continues to develop. I hope this information helped provide a bit of context.


Wed, Apr 24, 2013 : 2:17 a.m.

Katrease, Kalamazoo has the most expensive police and fire service in the state per capita. I can name several cities with larger populations and approximately half the staff. Yet K-zoo PSOs make an average of 10-20% more per man for being cross-trained. Kalamazoo-74K pop, 280 PSO Livonia-96k pop, 150 police and 100 fire w/EMS transport Canton-90k pop, 112 police, 71 fire w/EMS transport Shelby Twp- 74k pop, 80 police, 66 fire w/EMS transport Clinton Twp-95k pop, 90 police and 60 fire You may want to look into the airport authorities in Dallas/Fort Worth and NY/NJ, which quit the PSO model. NY/NJ just got hit with a $3M fine from the FAA for their failure to provide proper ARFF and fire service.

Jonathan Blutarsky

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 3:41 p.m.

Thanks the follow up Katease!

Nicholas Urfe

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 1:59 p.m.

Thanks, Katrease. Great background!

Katrease Stafford

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 1:54 p.m.

Here's a link to the story I wrote with a breakdown of the estimated costs to cross-train police and fire:

Nicholas Urfe

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 1:27 p.m.

"I know you've worked hard for your entire career at being the best firefighter/police officer you possibly can be. You've taken a lot of training. You've studied. You've seen some stuff. I know you're hoping for promotion. But I want you to think about something else. "We want you to dilute your core-focus, and everything you have worked for, by cross-training." Sounds great, right?

Nicholas Urfe

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 1:24 p.m.

In what other communities has has this model been successfully implemented? In what communities has this model failed? You need to look at both. How much will all this additional training cost? How long will it take? How will officers of either type be compensated for the increased stress and workload? What will about the consequences of those trained and potentially overworked professionals leaving the department? What makes them think this won't cause turn-over?


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 5:39 p.m.

ask the firemen in the city of Monroe. Guys ride in firetrucks alone now for all types of emergencies and hope that a police officer isn't already busy so they can have some back up. Study after study show how important the initial response is to life safety at fires and violent crimes. Our tax dollars go to support our safety first! These ignorant ideologists need to leave safety plans to the experts.

Nicholas Urfe

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 1:21 p.m.

It would also save money if the fire and police professionals helped out with potholes, cleaning bathrooms, and removing grafitti, when they aren't out on other city business.


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 1:10 p.m.

Bottom line, this is just another abysmal failure by the city manager and the elected officials who bought into his nonsensical "hybrid" plan. Mr. Lange was long on grand plans but has been unable to deliver on one single tangible result. As the city continues to waste its precious few resources on a seemingly endless series of land use plans, "festival streets," round-a-bouts, etc., real problems like inadequate police and fire protection are allowed to continue with no practical, common sense solutions being discussed and acted upon. The money that could be saved by the city simply by eliminating the numerous costly and unnecessary consultants alone would be enough to add at least a few more police officers and firefighters to the frontline. Why are we playing politics and gambling on grants when it comes to public safety?


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 1:05 p.m.

Faboo! Now can we please get back to meaningful discussions about creating a regional fire authority? A regional fire authority is clearly the State's preferred approach. Had the city pursued THAT strategy (which was widely and loudly disclosed by the State), instead of forging ahead with the city manager's ill-conceived, ill-advised and poorly supported hybrid public-safety strategy, the City and surrounding communities may well have had the consolidation process funded by the State. Instead, that money will now go to communities whose leaders know how to take a hint. Ypsilanti mayor and City Council: your city manager's poor decision-making skills and inability (or unwillingness) to read the writing on the wall just cost the City nearly $1M in badly needed state funds, put your debt reduction strategy back to Square One, and may be compromising the safety and security of your citizens. Are you listening?

Jay Thomas

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 2:42 p.m.

Hit the nail on the head.

Jim Osborn

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 12:12 p.m.

Could Ann Arbor train some police officers to be the 4th firefighter needed at the scene for the rare times when two need to go into a building after a 3-man truck has arrived, and others have not yet arrived but are on their way and will be there within a few minutes?


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 12:12 p.m.

"On the fire side, current shifts are down to four officers which is the bare minimum staffing level for structural fires, this potentially makes responding to EMS and other calls more difficult". Its a fire department not an ambulance service. That is why we have HVA. Because medical runs out number REAL fire runs by a huge percent I think we are at the point where all fire departments should go back to being 100% paid on call and stop trying to justify themselves by going on medical calls.


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 5:33 p.m.

spoken like a true jolly volunteer from the woods....! Get a scanner and a clue! or better yet, have a fire with a 4-5 minute response delay built in for the response just to get to the station. That's assuming that any of them are even going to respond. And don't be fooled, HVA is not so great that they can operate exclusively w/o fire dept assistance. Just ask the crews sitting in their rigs waiting for the next call.


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 12:11 p.m.

"Nothing would screw the taxpayers of Ypsilanti City more than loosing its local and specific control over its Police department." pseudo, really? WCSO Command meet with and discuss issues with Township Officials each day to address solutions. If the City really wants to save money, ask them how much it would cost to contract with the Sheriff's Office. The taxpayers of the City would be shocked how much money is wasted for the sake of the term "local control".


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 3:20 p.m.

Ask City council for the numbers and what they would get for it. You would be surprised. Not that the County wants anything to do with policing Ypsi City. The fact is that cooperation between governments is necessary.


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 2:46 p.m.

They have figured out the cost of the Sheriff's office. It's not any cheaper.

Katrease Stafford

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 12:02 p.m.

I've updated the story to include comments from former fire chief Jon Ichesco.


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 11:36 a.m.

Nothing would screw the taxpayers of Ypsilanti City more than loosing its local and specific control over its Police department. I don't have the same worry about the fire department but police? loosing that to the townships rubric of remote control silliness, that would be a mess.


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 11:09 a.m.

The plan behind this is totally wrong. Why hire new people, when the plan is to consolidate. Also, on-the-job training can handle cross training needs. I have established and led many cross training programs before and know that the Ypsi plans are flawed. The only thing they are looking for is more money/revenue. I do not understand why Ypsi leadership continues to miss the mark on cost savings plans, cost reduction plans and basically, fiscal responsibility. The Ypsi tax payers are the losers here with this leadership and management. Go figure!

Fat Bill

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 10:58 a.m.

Time to contract for fire service via Ypsilanti Township and enjoy some economy of scale.


Wed, Apr 24, 2013 : 2:55 a.m.

That has already been predetermined and voted down. Ypsilanti City and Ypsilanti Township would have to merge services and that my dear would need voter approval which will not happen.