Ypsilanti Township will hire more police patrols
For the first time since 1998, the Ypsilanti Township Board of Trustees is approving a contract with the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department that calls for additions to the police force instead of reductions.
The Board approved a four-year contract with the sheriff’s department that includes four new deputies year-round and two additional deputies during the summer months.
Officials say the increase was made possible because voters approved a 1.5 mill police services tax last year.
The contract is also significant because it marks the first time that a four-year contract with a mostly fixed rate has been signed by the township and county.
"We are thankful to members of our community who agreed to support law enforcement that enabled us to reinstate a few of the police officer positions that were cut in 2008 and again in 2010," said township Supervisor Brenda Stumbo.
"We are hopeful that the economy continues to improve and property values rebound so we can continue to reinstate more officers in the future."
The number of deputies serving the township was at a high of 44 between 1998 and 2008 when the recession forced the township to cut back. Since the millage was approved, the township was able to contract in 2011 for several additional deputies to help address violent crime issues.
The sheriff’s department also provides liaison officers to Lincoln and Ypsilanti High Schools during school months, and those two deputies will serve in the township during the summer. That’s beneficial to the township because crime usually peaks during June, July and August.
Sheriff’s department Lt. Jim Anuszkiewicz said the department will continue using several deputies to help address violent crimes and a deputy for traffic and drunk driving enforcement.
The additions will also allow the department to use one officer to work with neighborhood watch groups. Because of the manpower shortage, the department has been forced to send different deputies to meetings, making it difficult to address certain issues and causing information flow issues.
The new deputies will be assigned to Ypsilanti Township on Jan. 1.
“We’re definitely working in the right direction,” Anuszkiewicz said.
Mike Radzik, the township’s director of police services, said the contract will provide stability for the township and county, though there is built in flexibility in the event of any unforeseen financial challenges at either end.
The township is paying $150,594 per police service unit in 2012, which is a zero percent increase over 2011. That figure increases by 1 percent annually through the contract, which expires in 2015 when the rate will be $155,157 per PSU.
A PSU is defined as “the services of one sheriff’s department deputy plus all necessary support to keep that deputy on the road.”
The county can only charge more than the fixed costs if there are unforeseen increases in items such as salaries, benefits, fleet costs, uniform costs or gun costs.
The agreement among the township, sheriff’s department and county brings to a close a long debate and discussion over the cost of providing a police service unit to contracting jurisdictions.
The township will maintain at least 31 deputies unless it meets an unforeseen financial challenge, such as loss of its police services millage. The township has a 1.5- mill and 3.5- mill tax in place for police services, but those both expire in 2013.
Radzik said the township will see what kind of tax revenue is coming in during 2012 and determine how to proceed with putting new millages in front of voters.
He said township officials are excited to be able to bring back more deputies and are hopeful to bring back even more as the economy continues to recover.
“We need more police officers, no doubt about it, but we have to live within our means,” Radzik said. “But I think we’re doing the best we can with the resources we have.”
Anuszkiewicz said the news helps with morale around the department.
“The direction the township and sheriff's office is headed is seen as nothing but positive by the deputies,” he said. “Going from having 44 deputies several years ago to 31 has put an extreme amount of strain on the department with the amount of calls they handle. So going from 31 back to 35 is definitely having a positive impact on the agency.”