Ferrysburg-SL to split on PD?

Spring Lake leaders want to celebrate the 25th anniversary of partnering with the City of Ferrysburg for police protection by collaborating in a new venture, but some Ferrysburg council members want to end the relationship.
Marie Havenga
Mar 19, 2014

The two communities appeared to be on a path toward contracting together for police service with either the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety or the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department in an effort to curb runaway pension and health insurance costs.

The proposals from both law enforcement agencies would result in savings of about $300,000 per year, officials say.

And now village officials are preparing for the potential of having to go it alone, separate from the city.

“We obviously don’t want to move forward without Ferrysburg because we’ve enjoyed a really good relationship with them so far,” Village Manager Chris Burns said. “They need to do what they need to do — but hopefully, when all is said and done, we can come to a meeting of the minds and figure something out.”

After Village Council gave an unofficial “thumbs up” Monday to contracting with the county following a Spring Lake/Ferrysburg Police Commission recommendation, Ferrysburg’s elected officials put the brakes on it at their meeting Monday and asked City Manager Craig Bessinger to research costs of “going it alone.”

Burns, who had hoped to have a contract in place with an outside police force by the time the two municipalities’ intergovernmental police agreement expires June 30, said she understands Ferrysburg’s desire to research all of its options.

“They’re doing what they think is in the best interest of their constituents,” she said.

Burns said she expects the costs of separate police services for both communities to be higher than in a joint venture, but she will likely gather some numbers in case a joint venture falls through. And should the municipalities go their separate ways for police services, Burns said they would need to figure out a fair way to divide up the department’s assets.

The communities employ eight officers and share three cars. Ferrysburg kicks in 54 percent of costs, and Spring Lake 46 percent, based on service calls.

The intergovernmental police agreement requires both municipalities to mutually dissolve it, or one community to give the other a year’s notice. If nothing is done, Bessinger said the current pact will continue on, despite the June 30 deadline which he said was a date set 10 years ago as a chance to review the contract terms.

“It’s still in effect unless Ferrysburg or the village gives notice,” he said.

Bessinger said, per City Council’s direction, he will contact the county and city departments to obtain estimates for coverage without the village partnership. He will also research numbers for a stand-alone city department.

“We’re not going to take our time — we’ll work as diligently as we can,” Bessinger said.

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



So why did the City of Ferrysburg and Village of Spring Lake Police Departments merg years ago. Why did the City of Ferrysburg not contract with Grand Haven City then???? Lets see Chief Kaufman was the Chief of Ferrysburg and Chief Langeland was the Chief of the Village. Langeland stayed as the Chief during the merger and Chief Kaufman was the Assist Chief. Where was the cost savings their. I believe they appeased both chiefs until Langeland's retirement to become a County Commissioner. I think the question needs to be ask. Does the Grand Haven Public safety system fit the needs of Ferrysburg City or Spring Lake Village. Remember the Village already contracts fire service with the Township. So if they are disbanding the police department to to personal and benefit costs what are the costs to the public for public street services and those employees in both the village and city... If your going to do it right then look at the total picture. Don't put a bandaid on the situation. Lets cure the real problem.


i hate politics, there are the two guys talking things over a beer, mmm !!!!


I believe Manager Burns should stage an invasion of Ferrysburg. Afterall, they have the "warm water port!"



Ryan Cotton bought up a great deal of property with General Fund dollars to build a bike path. This was authorized by the village council. The money is spent, these properties are off the tax roles, and the Village can't pay its bills. Burns fires all higher paid employees to cut costs. Gary Rosema gets his greatest wish which is another community contracts to him which he has been laying the ground work for for years. Grand Haven never had a shot at that contract anyway. Gary and the Undersheriff were in there within a day or two of Roger getting let go telling the officers they will have jobs with his department. He wants the entire county law enforcement (Grand Haven & Holland) under his control. Bad idea. The happiest moment in Gary's life is when the State Police Post in Grand Haven closed. He hates the State Police, all Sheriff's do because they want to be them. By statute the only thing the Sheriff is required to do is maintain a jail and serve civil papers but that is not sexy enough. There is no requirement that they have a road patrol, Detectives, SWAT Teams, Dive Teams. That is all the job of the State Police who do it better and more cost effective. If you take away all the township contracted Sheriff patrols, you would find they have very very few patrol officers because they are not supposed to. The Sheriff empire builds. So in the end, Cotton spent all the money for a bike path, the village council signed off on it, Burns cleans up the mess, several long term and capable employees lose there jobs and Gary gets more of what he wants. And what does everybody pay attention to? Chief DeYoung. He and the other department heads are nothing more than a pallor game in this mess. I have policing idea that should be on the tribune poll; Do away with everything the Sheriff does except keep the jail and serve civil papers and give all that money to the State Police who already do everything else better and for less money.


Jon, (not your real name), Your facts are way off.

The office of Sheriff was established in the State of Michigan way before the State Police was.
There is no evidence that MSP does anything any better than any other agency.
There is no evidence that Sheriff Rosema wants to "take over". His agency ONLY negotiates with Cities and Villages after THEY INVITE him in. (Just ask the Village Manager and Council)

It is true that by statute, the Sheriff must maintain a jail. However over the years, all 83 counties in Michigan have Sheriff Departments that have a road patrol and offer many other services to the citizens of Michigan.

You obviously have been a guest at Rosema's hotel and have an ax to grind.

Consolidating police services, with the Sheriff's Office, not only makes economical sense but will enhance public safety and that is just common sense.

It's time we move forward instead of debating it for the past 40 years.


Admin 14, it makes more sense to have a tri cities police department. Rosema may have been contacted by Burns but he still is a hypocrite. I bet he never let Chief DeYoung know he was contacted by Burns and then came into slfbpd the same day The Chief resigned. Why would the Village want to loose their identity by loosing their police department.
Open the union contract and negotiate to save the police department or merge with Grand Haven.


I have watched these events from the inside for 3 decades. Spring Lakes problems were created in the years past and is a seperate issue from law enforcement. The Sheriff wishes to take over the entire county law-enforcement to include Holland and Grand Haven. He was extremely happy when the State Police closed up the Grand Haven Post. The Sheriff travels around romancing the smaller entities behind the scenes and has for many many years. Everyone involved knows this. I can only imagine his outrage if Holland, Grand Haven, Spring Lake, and Zeeland Townships decided to consolidate services with their neighboring municipalities. I remember when Zeeland TWP considered merging services for police with Zeeland City. He sent the then Undersheriff to the TWP who litterally threaten them that about what would happen if they undertook such a measure. They caved in. Recently the Sheriff promoted 5 Lieutenants to Captain and gave them a substantial pay increase. The motivation, I suspect, was to entice them to leave the Union. No change in their duties, no change in anything, just a promotion and a pay increase. No more Lieutenants in Ottawa County. No mention of that in the paper that I recall. In difficult financial times why would he do that. That move increases the cost of their salaries and pensions for no additional work. Who pays for that? The cost gets past on. Spring Lakes problems are their problems but the Sheriff seized another opportunity to enlarge his empire. County policing will not save money under a Sheriff because he is a politician. Much like central dispatch it has to be undertaken by the county population as a whole, a Chief/Commissioner/Director needs to be appointed, a millege needs to be established to replace all the money expended by the City's and Townships who fund these Sheriff's contracted patrols and the Head of that metro department needs to be held accountable to a board comprised of City/TWP Managers and not elected officials such as the county board of commissioners. That will truly create county wide consolidation and true cost savings. What is going on now will not. I do applaud Ferrysberg for taking a step back and evaluating what is going on. This all happened very quickly.


Jon, you make very good sense with running the police services like Central Dispatch. One Ottawa County metro Police Department, not run by Gary Rosema.


actually, a promotion is earned, not handed down from the boss !!


It didn't happen quickly. It has been going on for a year. It's just that no one told council or the people of FB or SL for that matter. Burns, Bessinger and crew were trying to get it done before anyone knew about it, wink. Probably just like the Sheriff told them to do. At least now they have to face the community and answer questions. I too applaud the council members of FB! Haven't heard a word from SL Council!!! Meanwhile us lucky ducks get Burns..."I'm not out to get anybody." Burns said after embarrassing the Village Manager and Council members of Oxford. Getting Oxford Council to undermine their normal procedures according to the Clarkston News. She uses those same words here at the Village of SL. Tell that to all the people she displaced. She continues to manipulate and undermine people and by saying one thing and doing another and not being informative to the public. I had high hopes for her to come in and "show em" but I can tell you those hopes are gone. She doesn't get it.


What are your thoughts on the high marks the Village Council gave Manager Burns in a recent annual review?


The short answer is she was new and everything was shiny, also short period of time after she was hired. It's obvious that Council was only let in on certain items of what was going on which is shocking. The fact that she allowed that to occur alone will change their opinion, or should. Also, I think that it would behoove her to treat people with dignity rather than an iron fist in personnel matters. A lot of the things put in the published personnel file were petty, one-sided and self-serving on her behalf and not things I would put in my employees' file. It's a pattern. IMHO, it appears, going back and looking at her history, that she publicly usurped her superiors in Oxford, undermining them and embarrassing Village President Del Vigna with her "insubordination" when she refused to go through proper channels and she is doing that again by shutting out councils. It appears she has a problem with authority, her own. She let go the DPW Director from SL and brought the DPW Director from Cedar Springs to work here. We had no one from here that could do the job? No one? Not one? Her communication and interpersonal skills are lacking, the Chief, the Clerk, gone. "I don't care what goes on the other side of the bridge." Doesn't give GHPD the opportunity to bid police services until after it is found out what is going on and then and only then sought out a bid from them. You get the picture, it is unfortunate. I'm afraid that letter of warning from we received is haunting us. It's not the marks on a piece of paper, it is the actions one takes.


Thanks for your assessment. Having some skin in this game with all three cities, I am amazed at this development. I appreciate your input.


I hope Ferrysburg Council members do their own homework and not let the Village dictate what they do. I think the Village did a poor job with managing the pensions of the police department. Don't let them run anything for Ferrysburg again. Wow !!! Where was Craig Bessinger for the past decade?


Too Much; I meant it happened quickly in terms of gov't time but youre right its been going on for a long time. Burns, Bessinger and dont forget Rosema and the Spring Lake Council were trying to slide it all by before anybody noticed using Roger Deyoung as a side show for everyone to pay attention to. And what about Grand Haven spending time on resources on a contract proposal they never had any hope of winning. SLFB Police Department was/is a fine agency and Roger Deyoung was a good Chief in spite of all this mess. He was a good cop and respected by not only his fellow chiefs but his officers as well. What Burns and the Sheriff did to him in concert with one another is shameful but nobody really seems to pay attention to that. The Sheriff has been trying to entice this type of consolidation all over the county for almost two decades and everyone in the law enforcement community knows that. It is his goal. The reason central dispatch consolidated services was to cut dispatching costs county wide. That has proven to be true. Is it a better product? That is a matter of opinion. The Sheriff wanted dispatch under his department also. He was furious when that did not happen. Big empty room in the lower level of the Filmore complex for years. They finally occupied it with mapping or something after dispatch decided they would never occupy it and built their own facility. Putting all law enforcement with Sheriff will not save money because it is a political office. The Ottawa County Board of Commissioners largely does nothing to keep the Sheriff in check fiscally. The recent promotions of Lieutenants to Captains is just a minor example. There was no reason to do this. Tax dollars pay the salary increases. Who does this then goes to around telling other municipalities to come join us we will save you money. Im sure Burns and Bessingers calls to Sheriff get answered immediately right now. Once the contracts are in place they will not hear from the Sheriff anymore. They may get to a Sergeant or possibly one of the new Captains, but after it is in place they will be beneath him like everyone else is. I doubt Burns will last. The manager after her will, but she likely will not. I wish the tribune would look into the practices of the Sheriff but they will not. Maybe they could just ask why he needed to make Captains out of Lieutenants. I am sure he will have a well crafted answer that means nothing.

makes sense

The above comments are mostly false. (made by "jon")

There is no evidence in any record or anywhere, that anyone is trying to "slide it by" anyone. Sheriff Rosema NEVER has solicited any City or Village to consolidate services. He has always had them come to him on their own accord. Just ask the cities of Hudsonville and Coopersville about their continued wonderful relationship and cost savings with the Sheriff's Office.

There is no evidence sir, anywhere that any of your accusations against anyone, especially the Sheriff are even remotely true.

"...he was furious...(when central dispatch didn't become his)". You again show you do not know the facts. Sheriff Rosema was NOT EVEN SHERIFF when central dispatch started.

Any promotions done at the Sheriff's Office are also approved by the county finance committee.

Sheriff Rosema has been, and always will be the most respected law enforcement officer in this state. That is why he is re-elected year after year with more votes than any other candidate.

Your attacks on Sheriff Rosema are without merit, and are false. It is obvious that you are either a disgruntled former employee or were an inmate at his jail. Get your facts straight.


I have never been a guest or a former employee of Rosema. Gary Rosema was a good deputy and detective but politics got the best of him. He now does what ever it takes to take over the smaller agencies. He is not trustworthy and he is rather disgusting what he is doing now. I really hope Ferrysburg really looks at the big picture. They will loose so much if they go with OCS. They are better off doing it alone. They can provide better service and maintain local control!!!!

makes sense

Sir, The Village of Spring Lake came to him to consolidate police services!

How does that translate to "politics getting the best of him"?

Coopersville and Hudsonville did the same years ago, saved lots of $ and are very satisfied. Both of their city councils still have the same "control" they always did.

Saying that someone is "not trustworthy", that is re-elected every year with more votes than any other candidate, is just not true.


Makes sense , the Village may of have gone to him but I bet he never let Chief DeYoung know what was going on!!!!!! I would consider that unprofessional on so many different levels. The Chief was forced out and Rosema came in the same day to talk with slfbpd officers. I smell a RAT !!!! It's hard to unseat a Sheriff but maybe this time people will realize what he is really is !!! I hope someone from MSP runs against him and wins !!!!

makes sense

So you are basing your hate for the Sheriff on conjecture ("I bet")?

What makes you think the Chief was not consulted? Who cares anyway? Maybe the Village Manager talked to him without the Chief's knowledge knowing he wouldn't be around long anyway. Who cares? What is your point?

You seem to have a ax to grind about the Sheriff based on no evidence what-so-ever.

If I were a betting person, I would bet you are a current Village Police employee who is worried you will have to work harder now. Good luck to you, be glad the Sheriff isn't vengeful. lol


Ms Burns?


Makes sense, you have no idea !!! You are Clueless and the Sheriff is vengeful but can't touch me !!!


Chief DeYoung had full knowledge of this possible police contract with Ottawa County. I don't even work in the police community and heard this information approx 2 years ago. I have NO idea what sped the process up with DeYoung leaving early, but I'm thinking their is more to this story that we will never know. I'm betting that Chief DeYoung is happy that he has moved on. I'm thinking that the Sgt from SL/FB who keeps writing the negative about the sheriff's office is concerned. If I recall correctly he had worked for a short time for Ottawa County Sheriff and could not cut the rigorous Field Training Program. Yes this person certainly has an ax to grind with several of those officers who have since retired. Or maybe its because he was investigated by Ottawa County for MDoP to a school employee's vehicle... who knows... Do you think for one minute that the Sheriff can just run out and take over a police department with out the County Administrator or County Boards approval... I don't think so.... but to bash the Ottawa County Sheriff who has worked his way up from the ranks and comes from a long family history of Ottawa County employees. Sheriff Rosema is the best sheriff's that Ottawa County has seen. Maybe one should ask MSP why they choose to shut down the MSP post in Grand Haven. I believe the sheriff was instrumental in at least not totally closing. Now that's waste fraud and abuse of our tax dollars. I think Ottawa County does a great job of providing a first class law enforcement service from the courts, prosecutors office, and sheriff offices.


Living in the Grand Haven area reminds of living in a George Burns/Gracie Allen show that never progresses out of the early years of TV. Aren't their more important things around these 3 cities to deal with?


makes sense, Im with goodshepard. Im none of the things you think and goodshepard is right, the sheriff let politics get the better of him long ago. It is a political office that he holds and it is not designed to save money. It panders to money and votes and lacks oversight. If the fiance committee approved promotions and pay raises for Lieutenants to Captains with no increase in responsibilitiy at a time with state unemployment is on the rise then somebody needs to get rid of them and whoever suggested this idea in the first place. I dont know that everybody in the county wants full consolidation but if they did and the true motivation was equal coverage at a significant cost savings then the only way to do it is through a metro-police department and not the sheriff.


GHDPS has to drive through Ferrysburg a couple times a day to check out the area near the north pier. They may as well make it worth their while.


GHDPS has to drive through Ferrysburg a couple times a day to check out the area near the north pier. They may as well make it worth their while.


Ferrysburg needs to get rid of Spring Lake. I say form a small Ferrysburg Police Department if it makes financial sense. The Village did not do them any favors by building that huge Police Department and charging them rent for the past 10 years. I hope the Council in Ferrysburg is looking at all those numbers that were hidden in the budget!!!!!!


seems tho all department,s are fighting within thenselves, is it time for the state come in and take charge, like they do with school,s, that would be interesting


Laughing...I think the Sheriff just gave us a taste of what we are going to get with the recent accident involving their work van. Investigating your own accident is a bit like tasting your own pie at the fair and giving it the best award!

Post a Comment

Log in to your account to post comments here and on other stories, galleries and polls. Share your thoughts and reply to comments posted by others. Don't have an account on GrandHavenTribune.com? Create a new account today to get started.