911 calls trend upward

Calls for emergency assistance are going up across the Tri-Cities.
Alex Doty
Nov 16, 2013

There could be a larger police force on Grand Haven Township streets in the future.

The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department has asked the township to consider a new full-time sergeant position.

“Just recently, over the course of the last month, I’ve had the opportunity to talk about the next steps for enhancing law enforcement services in Grand Haven Township,” Sheriff Gary Rosema said. “One thing being talked about is the possibility of Grand Haven Township adding a ... sergeant.”

The township currently has four Sheriff's Department officers assigned to cover a community of 16,000 residents. The township pays for three deputies; the fourth is funded by a combination of funds from Grand Haven Area Public Schools (67 percent) and the township (33 percent).

The township pays $361,250 for the deputies with a 0.55-mill township-wide special assessment district.

Adding a sergeant would cost about $97,000 for the first year of service, and start-up and equipment costs would add $35,000.

If the township used the county’s equipment fund for start-up costs, the tax hike over the next three years would be about 0.15 mill. This would bring in about $94,580 a year.

Resident support?

Tony Fiore, who has lived in the township for 19 years, said he values the current police force. He said there has been a prompt response every time he or his neighbors have called the police.

“We’d had a couple car break-ins, and the sheriff was right on top of it,” Fiore said.

Fiore said he wouldn't be opposed to it if the Township Board approves the millage.

“I am not against the extra millage if we need another sheriff, but I’ve always had good response times,” he said.

A need for more

Rosema cited staying ahead of growth and an increase in calls as reasons for the additional police officer in the township.

A county-prepared report indicates the number of calls fielded by the Sheriff’s Department in Grand Haven Township have increased from 4,678 in 2011 to 4,911 in 2012. The calls in Spring Lake Township for that same time period also increased, but only by 11.

Sgt. Valerie Weiss said the largest number of calls are traffic-related.

“Traffic stops seem to be a big issue everywhere I’ve worked in the county,” she said. “We get a lot of complaints for that kind of stuff.”

Sheriff’s Department numbers show there were 625 traffic-related calls in Grand Haven Township in 2012, compared to 267 in Spring Lake Township.

Weiss notes that the needs of each community is different.

“Boaters safety is more a priority on the lakeshore communities than in Coopersville and Georgetown (Township),” she said.

To read more of this story, see Saturday’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.



Harry Kovaire

If one more call a day needs to be fielded by the sheriff patrol, then give it to the deputy already being paid just to write traffic citations.

I encourage all GH Township residents to express their opposition to the additional property taxes at the November 25th meeting at 7:00. There is absolutely no need for additional police expense at this time.

I am dismayed that the Township Board again fails in their fiduciary responsibilities to the residents. From shiny new fire trucks to unnecessary bus service, they seem to be on a drunken spending spree.

Most of us struggle to manage our finances in the face of higher prices for everything from energy to food to health insurance. But the Princes of Town Hall think you should hire another deputy sheriff because their call load went up 4.5 call per week!


My experience has mostly been with GH City, but I know the township is quite fast as well.

When I was run over on my bicycle by an inattentive driver on the 5th, it literally only took a GH City officer three minutes to arrive on the scene after calling 911. Not too shabby. Only issue was the officer left out a couple things I told her on the police report with the description of the accident that are causing some issues with the insurance claim.

Every other time I have called them, even through the non-emergency number (usually to the musical fountain for stuff) they have been very prompt, even though it was not an emergency. Last time I called the non-emergency number, the response time was still only something like 8 or 9 minutes.

Compare this to the city I grew up in, Flint, and the difference is night and day. In Flint, the police and EMS take several hours, if they show up at all. Many times, someone will call saying they were robbed at gunpoint, or carjacked, and the police literally will not show up for a couple days. I'm seriously not joking. Also in flint, they do not fight fires in certain areas, they just let the house burn to the ground.

Growing up, our house in Burton (a block from Flint City Limits) was robbed and vandalized. We called 911 because my mother was scared the people were still inside. They did not come to the scene to take a police report for 1.5 weeks!

Grand Haven is VERY fortunate to have such an amazing police force.

Don't believe me about Flint/Detroit response times? Watch these...

Flint Police:

Detroit EMS (good one):

Detroit Fire:


Take the one officer out of the school for crying out loud. They have nothing to do there all day! Have that officer patrol the area until they are needed at school and called. They are there to break up fights in the hallway for gosh sakes! What ever happened to the teachers doing that? Are they on break and can't do anything? GHPS only pays for 75% of that officer's pay, who pays the rest? The city? The township? Who? Get that officer OUT of the school and on the road, period.


I totally agree with you Harry! It's always SOMETHING with the township! How to get more money out of the people... it really is getting to be ridiculous!!!


Well said Mr. Kovaire! GH Township does not need a "new full-time sergeant position." It didn't need the last patrol officer it added!! Adding a sergeant would cost about "$97,000 for the first year of service, and start-up and equipment costs would add $35,000. If the township used the county’s equipment fund for start-up costs, the tax hike over the next three years would be about 0.15 mill. This would bring in about $94,580 a year." Totally unnecessary at this point in time.


A couple things...I would be the first person who would fund additional public safety personel if it's warranted. It's about time for the county board to start adding some county funded road patrol officers. The county board has a formula for adding county funded position which includes detectives, sergeants, and clerical staff. I don't believe the county board has funded any additional road patrol officers for about 15 years. The county board has the attitude that if the township want additional deputies that they can fund them. So the way I see this today is we pay a State of Michigan tax which pays for the Michigan State Police, County taxes pays for county services, Sheriff Department, and I believe we also had a special county tax for law enforcement some time ago. We also pay for 911 Ottawa County Dispatch Services, GH Twp residences pay a special assessment for police services of four officers assigned to various duties. I can't tell you the last time I saw a state trooper on a county road. I thought the state polices budget was increased substantial with the republican led state government and I see less troopers in Ottawa County. After reviewing the statistics provided by the GH tribune and the law enforcement departments I don't see the justification yet for the twp tax payers to pay for this supervisor position. I think the GH board did a very poor job of budgeting the last tax by purchasing this unnecessary piece of fire equipment. I do think the fire service did need a new first out fire truck, but not a aerial truck when they have joint response in the tri-cities area. The one question I asked to a board member was what happen with the old fire truck???, was it traded in??? how much money did they get for it... what happen to that money... or was that money used for some other special project or maybe they could use it towards this position. Just learned from the TWP news letter that it was sold for $20,000.00 and the monies were placed back into the fire departments budget.

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