Posted on 17 October 2014.
By Judy Reed
This time next month, officers in the Cedar Springs Police Department will be wearing Kent County Sheriff Department uniforms.
The Cedar Springs City Council voted unanimously Thursday evening, October 9, to approve a contract with the Kent County Sheriff Department for police services. Council member Jerry Hall was absent, and Council member Ashley Bremmer asked to abstain, since she is employed by the Sheriff Department.
Undersheriff Jon Hess and Chief Deputy Michele Young were on hand to explain the contract and answer questions from the council. Sheriff Larry Stelma was also there, as was Sgt. Kelley, who will be the transition sergeant and most likely the supervising sergeant once the transition takes place.
Young said she expects the savings to the City to be about $119,000 for 2015. She explained that by using the township pool, their costs would be lower, since there will be 34 officers in the pool. Our five would make up about 15 percent of that. “They are joining us at a mid-range (on the pay scale),” explained Young. “That’s a minor raise for them. But with the pool you won’t see those high spikes.”
The five full-time officers were given welcome packets, which also contained an application. The Sheriff Dept. hopes to give them an offer of employment by the end of this week. The target starting date is November 7. Those officers will stay in the Cedar Springs unit unless they decide they want to move elsewhere. Many residents did not want to lose their officers, and with the offer for the full time officers to stay here, residents will still see familiar faces.
While the part time officers don’t get that same offer, Undersheriff Hess said they have a lot of part time positions open. “We have some openings we have purposely kept open in case they want to apply,” he explained. He also mentioned that there are opportunities for the reserves as well.
The Cedar Springs unit will use the current Cedar Springs Police offices at City Hall. Officers will begin and end their day there. The sergeant will be there daily, five days a week, and serve as the supervising officer for the patrol deputies. A sector lieutenant will also give oversight to the unit.
There will be on deputy on patrol each 12-hour shift. If Cedar Springs decides they need to add a deputy for a short time period, they can do that, but there would be a charge.
The officers will enforce all the city ordinances, like they do now, as well as all other laws. They will also respond to private property accidents, help unlock cars, and respond anytime an officer is requested, the same way they do now. Those were some things Cedar Springs specifically asked for.
All police equipment will be turned over to the KCSD and used for half of the allocation costs. The other half are being waived for the 5-year agreement.
The agreement can be rescinded anytime with 60 days notice.
The city and the Sheriff Department have worked on this agreement for several months. The City Council asked the City Manager to look into possibly contracting with the Sheriff Department after Police Chief Roger Parent announced his retirement earlier this year.
“The City thanks our police officers for their years of dedication to the community, their patience and understanding during this difficult time and most importantly, wishes them well going forward,” said City Manager Thad Taylor.
This is the first time anything like this has been done in Kent County.
“The city manager and the city council took a bold, innovative and progressive step as they seek to collaborate with the Sheriff’s Office for law enforcement services,” said Sheriff Larry Stelma, who also lives here in Cedar Springs. “I thank them for the trust and faith that they have placed with us and we look forward to serving the Cedar Springs community.”