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.
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.