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Sand Lake suspends police department

By Judy Reed

The Sand Lake Village voted Monday evening to suspend police department operations until further notice. It was done at the recommendation of the Village’s police personnel committee.

According to trustee Rachel Gokey, who serves on the committee, they had several reasons for recommending it. “The decision was made for many reasons, among them, lack of current funding to train, equip, operate and maintain the department; long-standing concern about performance and the relationship of the department with the community and staffing issues,” she said.

In the meantime, the Kent County Sheriff’s Office will take over coverage of the Village during the daytime, just as they do in the evenings, and as they do for area townships. 

“It’s important to note that they were not a full time department and so we have always been responsible for emergency response to the village when they weren’t on duty,” said Kent County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Joel Roon. 

“We don’t expect any interruption in emergency response to the village as they work through this decision. We have discussed with Sand Lake Village opportunities to contract for police services on those occasions there might be an increased need like a special event in the village. Of course we stand ready to serve in any capacity necessary to ensure the safety and security of the residents of Sand Lake,” he said.

This is different than the situation in Cedar Springs, where officers are contracted to stay within the city limits unless there are extenuating circumstances. Cedar Springs pays for contracted officers. The coverage that the Kent County Sheriff’s Office will provide the Village of Sand Lake is like most area townships—there is no charge. Instead, it’s paid for out of the KCSO operating budget.

Gokey said that the Village Council also directed Village President Danielle Hardenburg, and a trustee to look into all options to provide the Village with additional police patrol to supplement the ongoing professional police services provided by the Kent County Sheriff’s Department.

According to a statement by Hardenburg, “The Council’s goal is to provide our citizens with additional professional police protection and services in the most cost-effective manner possible.”  

Gokey said the Council would consider the options and decide how to move ahead in an upcoming public meeting.

The Sand Lake Police Department issued a statement on their Facebook page Tuesday morning: “It is with great sadness to report that the Sand Lake Police Department has been suspended after Monday’s board meeting on 3/18/2019. On behalf of all the Police Officers at Sand Lake we want to thank the entire community for allowing us to serve and protect the community for the many many years of service that we were able to serve. We all wish you the best for what the future may hold for the Village.”

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