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Tag Archive | "Larry Stelma"

Sheriff, Larry Stelma meets with local Pastors


Sheriff Larry Stelma with Pastor Timothy Hall of Grace Community Church in Belmont.

Sheriff Larry Stelma with Pastor Timothy Hall of Grace Community Church in Belmont.

Asks for their help to address root cause of youth crime

Grand Rapids — In a recent meeting with Kent County area pastors, Kent County Sheriff Larry Stelma urged active involvement from the clergy to address youth crime and incarceration. He outlined the scope of the problem with troubled youth who end up in custody.

 Far too many teenagers that we see in our facility lack adequate education and have no marketable skills to be successful in the workforce,” said Sheriff Stelma. “Furthermore, many have mental health issues and are drug or alcohol dependent.”

Sheriff Stelma said the Kent County Correctional Facility will process 25,000 inmates a year. “Of that 25,000 inmates, over 2,100 are teenagers—14 to 19 years old. And these numbers do not include those in juvenile homes.  Of the 2,100 teenagers incarcerated in the Kent County Correctional Facility during the course of a year, 1,500 of them indicate they have some gang affiliation,” Sheriff Stelma added. 

 Sheriff Stelma said 78 percent of these teenagers will go back in the system within three years. At $80 a day, with the average length of stay being ten days, this equates to $1.7 million dollars a year to jail teenagers in the Kent County Jail.

 Sheriff Stelma also addressed solutions to the youth crime problem that that can begin early in a child’s life—before a crime has even been committed. These solutions include high-quality early education and programs that support at-risk youth and families and are shown to address the root behavioral causes of criminal activity.

 He pointed to the evidence developed by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit anti-crime organization, of which he is a member. It includes more than 5,000 police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors, attorneys general and other law enforcement leaders and violence survivors. 

 “Fight Crime: Invest in Kids supports programs that are proven to cut crime and save taxpayer dollars by making wise investments in programs that reach kids early,” he said. “I am proud to be a member of this organization since it started 20 years ago. We have worked with our lawmakers both in Lansing and Washington to make sure they understand the benefits of investing public dollars in proven programs to help kids succeed in school and beyond,” Sheriff Stelma emphasized. 

Programs that Fight Crime: Invest in Kids supports include high-quality preschool, voluntary home visiting, effective programs delivered in the after school time period, and child and family coaching for troubled children. All these programs help kids get on track and stay on track for success and opportunity—and avoid a life in and out of the criminal justice system.

 In Michigan, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids is led by more than 500 of Michigan’s best-known police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors and crime survivors. It operates under the Council for a Strong America, the umbrella nonprofit for five membership organizations comprising the unique and powerful voices of law enforcement, business, military, faith and sports, working together to prepare young Americans for success.

The Council for a Strong America’s faith organization, Shepherding the Next Generation, is led by former Kent County State Representative Tom Pearce, who serves as the national director. Pearce also spoke to the pastors and encouraged them to join Shepherding the Next Generation and to be advocates for youth as part of their ministry.

By getting at the front-end through prevention programs, as pastors we can reduce the negative consequences at the tail-end that usually result in shattered lives and high costs associated with incarceration,” he said.

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Policing issue to be discussed tonight


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Kent County Sheriff Larry Stelma and/or his team will be at the Cedar Springs City Council meeting tonight at 7 p.m. to give a presentation on a proposal for contracting with the city on police services.

Under the proposal, the Cedar Springs Police Department would be dissolved, and the Sheriff Department would take over policing the city. The city’s current full time officers would be given the chance to apply to the department.

Currently, the Cedar Springs Police Department has six full-time officers (not including the Chief), four part-time officers, three unpaid reserves that work special events, one unpaid chaplain, and a part-time clerk.

Currently, three officers work 10 hours each, with two officers on duty during 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. Chief Roger Parent works during regular business hours daily, and is a backup for officers during the day shift.

Under the proposal, the Sheriff department would provide one full-time deputy on patrol 24 hours a day, and either a sergeant or a community police officer in the office during regular business hours. It’s not known whether that person would also function as a backup officer.

According to Chief Parent, there is sometimes a great need for two officers on in the evening. For example, on June 4, there were 16 calls between 5 p.m. and midnight for the two officers. The next night, there was only six. “It’s hot and cold. It’s a busy town,” he said.

The Sheriff Department projected a savings of over $120,000 for the City if they go with what they are proposing.

Parent, who worked for the Sheriff Department for many years before coming to Cedar Springs, is retiring in August. “I worked for the Sheriff Department so can’t say anything bad about them. There are a lot of good deputies. But what we have here is good and works for Cedar Springs,” he said.

He noted that with three current officers having over 10 years in and one at top pay, it would definitely affect their career paths, as well as service to the public. “I understand there would be a cost savings, and there would be police coverage, it would just be different. I feel like we give more personal attention, more follow up than some deputies could.”

He also noted that these officers chose to work here and dedicate themselves to our community. “Is it fair that one council decides this for them?” he asked.

To hear more about the proposal and possibly dates for a special meeting with the public, attend the meeting tonight at Cedar Springs City Hall at 7 p.m.

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City to study Sheriff proposal for policing


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By Judy Reed

 

With Cedar Springs Police Chief Roger Parent retiring in September, the Cedar Springs City Council has a choice to make: either hire a new police chief, or contract with the Kent County Sheriff Department to provide law enforcement for the city of 3,500-plus residents.

Last month the City Council directed City Manager Thad Taylor to ask Sheriff Larry Stelma to provide a cost for the same level of service the current police provide. The Sheriff and his team presented Taylor and Chief Parent with a proposal last week that contained two options to consider.

“It’s not quite apples to apples but as close as they can get,” explained Taylor.

Currently, the Cedar Springs Police Department has six full-time officers (not including the Chief), four part-time officers, three unpaid reserves that work special events, one unpaid chaplain, and a part-time clerk. The police provide 30 hours a day of patrol. Three officers work 10 hours each, with two officers on duty during 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. There is then one day per week where they are all scheduled, although not all are usually working. “It’s a day where they can take vacation, or comp time,” explained Taylor. “It’s just the way the schedule falls so they get an 80-hour pay period.” That equals 10,140 hours of patrol per year.

The Chief works 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year. That equals 1,980 hours yearly.

The clerk works 20 hours weekly, for 1,040 hours.

That is 13,160 hours of law enforcement accountable to the City. Last year’s police budget came in at $681,190. The 2014-2015 budget is projected at $685,511. (According to Chief Parent he gave back some of his budget to the city last year.)

Under the Sheriff Department proposal, option 1, they would provide one patrol officer on duty at all times—24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In addition to the patrol officer, they would provide a Sergeant to work a 40-hour week. The Sergeant would provide supervision and command staff support, and work with the City leadership to establish the agenda and direction of the patrol officers. The Sergeant would also provide additional services, which could include neighborhood watch, business watch, presentations, communications to city officials, working with the schools, and some zoning enforcement.

Detective services, scientific support, record management (an $11,000 savings), management reports, IT and radio service support for mobile equipment, dispatch services ($35,537) would all be included.

Vehicle costs would be provided free of charge for the regular patrols, but the city would be responsible for the sergeant’s at $350 per month. They would provide a vehicle credit for the current police cruisers.

All uniforms, equipment, supervision, liability and training costs would be provided at no additional charge. Cars and uniforms could look the way that Cedar Springs wants them.

The patrol officer would provide 8,760 hours of straight patrol. The sergeant would provide the same amount of hours as the Chief—1,980.

While it appears to be less patrol hours, according to the Sheriff, they would actually provide 338 hours of more patrol time, because the detective bureau would compensate for approximately 16 percent of the city officer’s patrol time—the time they spend following up on investigations for felonies, warrant processing, and other follow up. Based on 2013 calls for service, that would equal 1,718 hours of service.

Clerical support would be provided at no charge and would include things like sex offender registration, gun permits, records checks, freedom of information reports, etc. Clerical support is available in Grand Rapids or at the north substation. The part time clerk that works two days a week could be at the north substation, or possibly relocated to Cedar Springs City Hall.

This entire option would cost $560,384, a potential savings over last year of $120,806.

Option 2, would be exactly the same, except instead of a sergeant to provide supervision, they would provide a community policing deputy. The deputy would provide the other services such as neighborhood watch, business watch, working with city officials, schools, etc. That option would be $548,306 per year.

While it looks like the Sheriff proposal would be a savings, there is also the human element to consider. All of the city’s full time officers—six of them, several with 10 to 14 years of service—would all have to reapply for their jobs.

“The Council has to decide what the current officers bring to the community,” said Taylor. “They give us a good level of coverage, similar to what the Sheriff proposed, but double coverage between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. These are officers that have made a commitment to the community—they work here because they want to be here. They know the community, and that’s very important in law enforcement. And people know them. How do you quantify that? They’ve made a commitment and are very dedicated. That’s not saying anything against any deputy; we just don’t have the certainty that they would be here any longer than a year or two. It’s difficult to imagine one being here for 14 years, like Officer Chad Potts has been.”

Taylor also noted that the current clerk is at City Hall 5 days a week to help people if an officer is not in. That might not be the case under the new options.

Another point to think about is if the Council decides to go with the Sheriff Department to save the money formerly spent on law enforcement, what will they use that money for? To lower taxes? Make road improvements? New sidewalks? Something else? “People will want to know how it’s going to impact them,” said Taylor.

He explained that the Sheriff department proposal would be a new way to provide law enforcement to the community, but he thinks the City Council needs to engage the public and find out what they want. “It’s a huge decision,” he remarked.

The Sheriff Department will have representatives at the June 12 City Council meeting at 7 p.m. to answer questions from Council. The Council is also expected to announce at that meeting a date for a special meeting just to hear comments and questions from the public on what they want.

In the meantime, you can contact City Manager Thad Taylor with comments at manager@cityofcedarsprings.org, or one of the City Council members. Just go to www.cityofcedarsprings.org, and click on council. Choose one of the names and click on it. It will give you a bio of the council member and an email address.

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