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Published: Tuesday, 2/23/2010

Dundee takes first steps toward own police force


DUNDEE, Mich. - As a county deputy, Tod O'Lone knows the importance of and strengths in the law enforcement services that Monroe County sheriff's deputies provide to the village of Dundee.

But, Mr. O'Lone, the village council president, also realizes that with shrinking real-estate tax revenues, the city has to trim costs wherever it can.

Two weeks ago, council began to phase in a village police operation and end a relationship with the county sheriff's office.

The village has had a contract with the sheriff's office to provide law enforcement services since the late 1970s.

Council's recent action gave the required three-month notice to Sheriff Tilman Crutchfield that the village is cutting loose one of the three deputies provided by his office.

Mr. O'Lone, who is a county deputy assigned to Ida Public Schools as a liaison officer, said the village will give the same notice to Sheriff Crutchfield in the coming months on the other two deputies.

A director of public safety is to be hired soon to oversee the police department, and a force of part-time officers will be hired.

"We hope to be up and running by July 1," Mr. O'Lone said.

Village officials said they believe that they can get the same quality of service provided by the sheriff's employees with substantially less money.

The village, like Bedford Township, contracts with the sheriff's office for the deputies assigned to Dundee, paying 80 percent of the officers' wages and benefits, or about $104,000 annually for each deputy.

Mr. O'Lone said the salaries of the part-time officers and director of public safety will total about $215,000 annually.

"After the initial start-up costs, we think we can get as much or better coverage and save about $100,000 a year," he said.

The village officers and director of public safety will occupy office space now used by the sheriff's deputies and they will use the police vehicles owned by the village.

Mr. O'Lone said he was skeptical of the plan when he was informed of it when he was elected about a year ago.

"I told the village manager that we were going to have to come up with solid money figures before I am able to be swayed. He showed me just how much money we should be saving by going with our own department," he said.

Mr. O'Lone said he was assured by Sheriff Crutchfield that the village would not be left in the lurch and his staff would be available to help with the transition.

"Sure, he was disappointed, but he was understanding. He offered his help. We assured him that we are doing this strictly for financial reasons and we were not unhappy with the service. He offered to help in any way he can," Mr. O'Lone said.

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