OTTAWA LAKE - A new constable is patrolling the roads in Whiteford Township, checking doors for people on vacation and keeping the peace in Ottawa Lake.
Doug Bulmer, 44, was sworn in last month as one of the township's two constables after winning election to the four-year office as a write-in candidate.
Mr. Bulmer had been eyeing the job in law enforcement since moving to the township from Wayne, Mich., about two years ago.
"I have always been interested in government service. I always thought the constable position would be an excellent way to serve the public and get involved," he said.
A design engineer at a Westland, Mich., company, Mr. Bulmer lives with his wife in the township. They have six children and five grandchildren.
The constable vacancy opened up when Henri Lavimodiere decided to run for township treasurer. Mr. Lavimodiere, who had been a constable since 1993, lost that election by 21 votes.
Dan Briskey, the other constable, ran unopposed and Mr. Bulmer decided to throw his hat in the ring to replace Mr. Lavimodiere. Mr. Bulmer got 91 write-in votes.
"It was a good opportunity for me to slide in and start my progression in township politics," he said.
Mr. Briskey and Mr. Bulmer are among a dying breed in law enforcement. The Michigan Township Association said that fewer than 10 percent of the state's 1,242 townships have constables.
The township allows a 15-hour work week for constables, who earn $9 an hour and get paid mileage for the use of their vehicles.
They carry firearms and police radios, but they do not have the authority to arrest suspected criminals. Their duties include patrolling the township's 80 miles of roads, conducting inspections for blights and nuisances, attending high school football and basketball games for traffic control and parking, and responding to accidents.
Although no longer on duty, Mr. Lavimodiere has been riding with Mr. Bulmer to help him get to know the area.
"Mr. Bulmer will pick up on his own the way of doing things," said Mr. Lavimodiere, who will continue doing state-mandated liquor inspections of restaurants, taverns, and carry-outs for the township.
Mr. Lavimodiere, who was named the state's top constable by the Michigan Constables and Court Officers Association in 1998, said he will miss being the eyes and ears of the township, but will enjoy staying home in the evenings with his wife.