County announces dates of local law enforcment meetings
UPDATED: A series of public meetings with local leaders and residents to discuss public safety and law enforcement levels have been scheduled for July and August.
Expected to explain the need for increased funding for the Allegan County Sheriff’s Office, one meeting is scheduled in each of the five groups of townships that represent road patrol zones.
Sheriff Frank Baker has said his department’s current staff struggles to keep enough deputies on patrol to maintain those five zones, or sections.
Baker spoke to local leaders and county and law enforcement officials at a workshop in April to say he needed two sergeants and six patrol deputies on duty 24/7 to maintain five sections of patrol.
“On paper this looks pretty good,” he said then. “If we could do this every day, we’d be very happy—but we can’t.”
The upcoming local meetings are meant to get that information out to more officials and residents—including that caseloads for the department’s five detectives were too large and city police often must assist or handle entire calls out of their jurisdiction when the sheriff’s office can’t respond in time. Baker has said that a baseline of eight additional deputies for road patrol and four more detectives would address current needs.
Allegan County commissioners called for the meetings to learn more about law enforcement concerns specific to each area and gauge support for a possible countywide millage. County officials have estimated that a 0.5-mill tax could generate the approximately $1.5 million needed to fund the new positions.
For a summary of the April workshop, click here.
Commissioners have said they intend to decide in September whether or not to pursue a millage, drawing in part on the feedback from the local meetings.
If commissioners do support a millage, they will still have to work out how any new tax would affect funding for city police as well as townships that already contract with the county for deputies that specifically patrol those areas.
Here is the schedule of upcoming meetings:
Patrol Section 1
Wednesday, Aug. 16, at 6:30 p.m.
Fillmore Township Hall
4219 52nd St., Holland
Section 1 includes: Fillmore, Heath, Laketown, Manlius, Overisel and Saugatuck townships
Patrol Section 2
Wednesday, Aug. 23, at 6:30 p.m.
Clyde Township Hall
1679 56th St., Fennville
Section 2 includes: Casco, Clyde, Ganges and Lee townships
Patrol Section 4*
Wednesday, July 19, at 6:30 p.m.
Allegan Township Hall
3037 118th Ave., Allegan
Section 4 includes: Allegan, Cheshire, Trowbridge and Valley townships
Patrol Section 5
Wednesday, July 26, at 6:30 p.m.
Wayland Township Hall
1060 129th Ave., Shelbyville
Section 5 includes: Dorr, Hopkins, Leighton, Monterey, Salem and Wayland townships
Patrol Section 6
Wednesday, Aug. 2, at 6:30 p.m.
Gun Plain Township Hall
381 8th St., Plainwell
Section 6 includes: Gun Plain, Martin, Otsego and Watson townships
* Section 3 is not missing. The county previously divided the county into six sections. After reductions in road patrol, one was eliminated. To help preserve the data collected in the sheriff's office records, it was easier to delete Section 3 and not rename the others.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to include new dates for the meetings in Section 1 and Section 2, which are now scheduled for August.
Contact Ryan Lewis at email@example.com or (269) 673-5534.