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City to study Sheriff proposal for policing


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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Kent County Sheriff Department awards

Sgt. Tim Kraai, selected as 2010 Deputy of the Year - Corrections

Deputy Dennis Albert, selected as 2010 Deputy of the Year - Law Enforcement

Dina Emery, selected as 2010 Civilian Employee of the Year

The Kent County Sheriff Department is pleased to announce that the following employees have been selected as the 2010 Deputies of the Year and Civilian Employee of the Year:

Dina Emery, Clerk III (Records Bureau), selected as 2010 Civilian Employee of the Year
Sgt. Tim Kraai, selected as 2010 Deputy of the Year – Corrections
Deputy Dennis Albert, selected as 2010 Deputy of the Year – Law Enforcement

These three employees will be honored at the Kent County Sheriff Department Annual Awards Ceremony on Friday, March 4.

2010 Civilian employee of the year:  Berendina “Dina” Emery

Dina Emery began her career at the Kent County Sheriff Department on December 23, 1991 as a Microfilm Clerk I in Records Bureau. Dina’s excellent clerical skills were readily discernible in her work on a daily basis and, as a result, was counted on to temporarily fill in for co-workers on medical leave, including as Clerk Typist II in the Records Bureau and as Clerk II in the Inmate Accounting Office in the Jail.

On October 11, 1993, Dina was promoted to Clerk II in the Records Bureau.  Over the years, she’s been given extra responsibilities and has always performed those tasks with excellence.  On February 3, 2003, Dina was promoted to Clerk III and served as the Technology and Communications Division administrative assistant.  She has an essential role in the coordination of technology, purchasing, records, equipment and personnel, not only for the Technology and Communications Division but for the entire department. She has the responsibility of organizing, notifying, and tracking all the training that occurs off-site as well as through the West Michigan Criminal Justice Training Consortium.

Dina provides valuable input and leadership as the Kent County Sheriff Office moves forward with new technology and re-organization. She comes to work each day prepared and with an exceptional attitude that consists of compassion, patience, commitment, and competency.

We congratulate Berendina Emery on being named 2010 Civilian Employee of the Year.

2010 Deputy of the year–law enforcement:  Deputy Dennis Albert

Dennis Albert began his career on May 27, 1996 at the Kent County Sheriff Department as a Cadet, working part time and attending college full time.  As Cadet, Dennis’ assignments included providing administrative support to staff, statistical data collection, report writing, operation of security gates, and contact with the public.

In April 1998, Dennis resigned to attend the police academy full time at Grand Valley State University and, upon graduation from the police academy he was rehired on March 15, 1999 as a County Patrol Officer.

Throughout his career at the Sheriff Department, Dennis has been selected for numerous positions of increasing responsibility.  Some of these include Field Training Officer, FBI Fugitive Task Force member, Detective, Defensive Tactics Instructor, Firearms Instructor, and Tactical Team Officer.  Dennis often volunteers for additional responsibilities and does so with tremendous enthusiasm, including serving as a member of the Department’s Honor Guard.

During his career, Dennis received numerous letters of appreciation from both citizens and his supervisors.  Also over the years, he received five official department Letters of Recognition as well as receiving the Distinguished Police Service Award in 2005 for his role in arresting a serial bank robbery suspect. We congratulate Deputy Dennis Albert on being named 2010 Deputy of the Year – Law Enforcement.

2010 Deputy of the year–corrections:  Sergeant Timothy Kraai

Tim Kraai began his career on August 3, 1992 at the Kent County Sheriff Department as a Cadet, working part time and attending college full time.  As a cadet, Tim’s assignments included providing administrative support to staff, statistical data collection, report writing, operation of security gates, contact with the public, and working in dispatch.

Tim was hired part time as an Emergency Communications Operator on December 12, 1994.  He was hired full time as an Emergency Communications Operator on June 6, 1997.  In dispatch, he went above and beyond his responsibilities, always willing and wanting to take on new tasks and very good at his work.

He was hired as Corrections Officer on February 4, 2002.  As an officer assigned to the main jail facility, Tim worked virtually every duty station.  His responsibilities included conducting inmate searches, transfers and investigations regarding alleged incidents, admitting visitors, conducting inmate counts, inspecting living quarters, and assisting in the Inmate Services Program.  Tim quickly became someone you could count on to do the job right. He was a leader among his peers, well liked and respected.

One of Tim’s recent assignments included the Training Unit. He worked diligently to see that the many demands on that division were handled and kept the department functioning during a period of not having a supervisor or partner in the office.

Tim was promoted to Sergeant on November 9, 2009 and assigned in the main jail. He continues to do an excellent job with the new responsibilities and projects.

We congratulate Sgt. Timothy Kraai on being named 2010 Deputy of the Year – Corrections.

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Sheriff deputies honored

Kent County Sheriff deputies keep residents in and around the greater Cedar Springs area safe day in and day out. The Cedar Springs Post joins Sheriff Larry Stelma in  congratulating several employees on their promotions and retirements.
Captain Michelle Young will be promoted to the Rank of Chief Deputy.  Lieutenant Kevin Kelley will be promoted to the rank of Captain of the Road Patrol Division and Lieutenant Charles Dewitt will be promoted to the rank of Captain of the Technology/Communications Division.
Chief Deputy Bruce Partridge is retiring after 36 years of service, Captain Jack Medendorp; 35 years, Captain Darrell Singleton; 28 years, Lieutenant Jack Stewart 37 years; and Lieutenant Dave Mervau 25 years.


Chief Deputy Michelle Lajoye-Young

Michelle began her career at the Kent County Sheriff’s Office on December 11, 1989 as a Corrections Officer.  In 1994, Michelle was promoted to Sergeant overseeing the records unit and in 1999 she achieved the rank of Lieutenant. In August 2002, Michelle was assigned as Lieutenant in charge of the road patrol’s south substation.
On January 1, 2007, Michelle was promoted to the rank of Captain and assigned to the Technology/Communications Division.  Michelle was instrumental in the development and activation of the central call taking center implemented in 2010.  Michelle is being promoted to Chief Deputy of the County Sheriff’s Office

Captain Kevin Kelley

Kevin began his employment with the County at the Sheriff Department on June 5, 1989 as a County Patrol Officer.  Kevin was promoted to the rank of Sergeant in 2003 and in 2007 Kevin was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in charge of the Technology/Communications division.
Kevin is being promoted to Captain in charge of the Road Patrol Division.

Captain Charles Dewitt

Chuck began his career at the Kent County Sheriff Department on July 31, 1995 as a County Patrol Officer. While on the road patrol he also worked as an E-Unit officer.
In 2002, Chuck was promoted to Sergeant and assigned to the detective bureau and in 2007, he was promoted to Lieutenant.
Chuck is being promoted to Captain in charge of the Technology/Communication Division.


Chief Deputy Bruce Partridge

Bruce Partridge began his 36 year career with the Kent County Sheriff’s Office as a Cadet in 1973 and was hired as a Correction Officer in 1974. He was assigned to the Road Patrol Division in 1974 and worked as a Patrol Officer. In 1999 he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant and was tasked with the responsibility of implementing a security plan for the new Kent County Courthouse. In 2006 he was promoted to the rank of Captain and assigned to the Road Patrol Division.  In 2009, he was promoted to the Rank of Chief Deputy.

Captain Jack Medendorp

Jack Medendorp is a 35 year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office and began his career in 1973. He realized his passion for law enforcement and dedicated his career to the citizens of Kent County and the Sheriff’s Office. He was a Corrections Officer for one year, and then became a Road Patrol Deputy in 1974. Captain Medendorp was promoted to the rank of Sergeant in 1986, Lieutenant in 1997 and Captain in 2009.

Captain Darrell Singleton

Darrell began his career 28 years ago at the Kent County Sheriff’s Office on May 19, 1982 as Corrections Officer.  On July 24, 1989 he was promoted to Corrections Sergeant and on February 6, 1995 he was promoted to Lieutenant.  On April 17, 2006, Darrell was promoted to Security Captain in the Correctional Facility, in charge of the staffing.

Lieutenant Jack Stewart

Jack Stewart began employment at the Kent County Sheriff’s Office on September 25, 1973 as a Cadet.  In 1998 he was promoted to sergeant assigned to the Detective Bureau supervising the Family Services Unit.  In September 2004, Jack was promoted to Lieutenant assigned as Director of the Kent County Emergency Management.

Lieutenant Dave Mervau

David started at the Kent County Sheriff’s Office on June 3, 1985 as a County Corrections Officer. In 1993 he was assigned to the Patrol Division.  On September 23, 2002 he was promoted to sergeant assigned to the Road Patrol and eventually assigned to the Vice Unit as Sergeant.  Dave was promoted to Lieutenant on September 8, 2008 assigned to Detective Bureau.

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