Sheriff Suggests Way to Add Deputies in Scio

Also, fate of Ypsilanti Twp. a concern for entire county
County commissoner Mark Ouimet, right, talks with xx

County commissoner Mark Ouimet, right, talks with Washtenaw County Sheriff’s commander Dieter Heren after Monday's meeting of the county's police services steering committee. During the meeting, Ouimet was added to the membership of a finance subcommittee, which will be looking at the cost of sheriff deputy contracts with local municipalities. (Photo by the writer.)

As reported in The Chronicle’s preview of the upcoming Nov. 18 Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners meeting, the agenda includes an item to be presented by Sheriff Jerry Clayton, listed on the agenda as a “Recommendation of Policy for Adding Contract Deputies.”

At last week’s administrative briefing, few details were available about Clayton’s presentation. So when county administrator Bob Guenzel mentioned to commissioners that Clayton would be discussing the item at the county’s Police Services Steering Committee meeting, held on Monday, The Chronicle made a point to attend.

The issue of contract deputies has been contentious – one that resulted in a years-long legal battle between the county and three townships. The dispute has centered on how much municipalities have to pay to contract with the sheriff’s department for deputy patrols, and what the true cost of providing those patrols is –  a price versus cost issue. A policy change could be significant, if it addressed these issues.

At Monday’s meeting of the police services steering committee, which includes several township supervisors, public safety officials and four county commissioners, Clayton made it clear that any recommendation for broader policy change is a work in progress.

Clayton said that his presentation at Wednesday’s board of commissioners meeting will be informational only, related to adding contract deputies in Scio Township. He then plans to bring a formal resolution on that issue to the board of commissioners at their Dec. 2 meeting.

More broadly, he asked the police services steering committee to continue working on a recommendation for the cost and price of contract deputies. He hopes the recommendation would also propose a process for adding contract deputies, when a municipality makes that request. Changing the way that process is managed would be a policy issue that requires approval by commissioners.

Separately, the committee discussed a defeated millage proposal in Ypsilanti Township, which could mean the loss of nearly a quarter of their current deputy patrols. “It will have an impact on everyone in the county,” said Bill McFarlane, Superior Township’s supervisor.

But first, a look at the immediate needs of Scio Township.

Public Safety in Scio Township

In 2006, Scio Township voters defeated a public safety millage proposal that would have levied up to 1.945 mills for police and fire services. Following that defeat, the township’s board of trustees formed a 15-member citizens committee to study Scio’s public safety needs and to look at ways to finance those services. Without a millage, police and fire services were paid for out of the township’s general fund.

The committee recommended a scaled-back millage proposal, focused only on fire safety. In November of 2008, voters approved a 0.9-mill tax for that purpose. The millage freed up general fund dollars previously used to pay for fire services, and township leaders hoped to redirect those dollars to pay for additional deputy patrols.

Since then, Scio Township has requested three additional deputies, adding to the five sheriff’s deputies that are already contracted with the township. However, there’s not been a clear mechanism for doing that.

At Monday’s meeting, sheriff Jerry Clayton said that a several funding changes have led him to come up with a proposal to handle the request from Scio for three more deputies – which he’ll be making to the board of commissioners. The first of those funding changes is that a state grant now funding three road patrol deputies will be reduced, and will provide funds for only two deputies in 2010.   Also, Willow Run public schools – which is grappling with a budget deficit – is cutting funds for a deputy who works in the schools. And finally, Augusta Township officials chose not to put a millage on the ballot that would have funded one contract deputy, so that funding source will be eliminated as of January 2010. That means there are a total of three deputy positions in the sheriff’s department that will be losing their funding sources, Clayton said.

Those three deputy positions, Clayton said, could be reallocated to Scio Township, which now has the general fund dollars freed up though the fire services millage to pay for them.  The change would be cost-neutral for the county, and would save the jobs of the deputies. That’s the proposal he’ll be making to the board of commissioners, he said – first as a presentation on Wednesday to get their feedback, then as a formal proposal on Dec. 2.

After hearing Clayton’s proposal at Monday’s meeting, Pat Kelly, supervisor of Dexter Township, asked, “Why would anybody not be in favor of this?”

“Jeff’s not here,” quipped county commissioner Wes Prater, referring to his colleague Jeff Irwin, who has been vocal about the need for the price that townships pay for contract deputies to reflect the actual cost of employing them.

Broader Policy Issues

The county’s 2010 budget – which commissioners have not yet approved, but will consider at their Nov. 18 meeting – includes funding for 81 contract deputies. Townships and other municipalities that contract with the sheriff’s department for these patrols will pay about $144,000 per deputy. That’s up 2% from the 2009 rate. In 2011, another 4% increase is scheduled.

But what if more deputy patrols are requested, beyond the current 81 covered in the 2010/2011 budget? Or what happens if a township that’s contracted for a certain number of deputies doesn’t have the money to fund them, as is the case with Ypsilanti Township? As long as there’s a steady state, with an equal supply and demand, there’s not an issue – but that’s not always the case, sheriff Jerry Clayton said.

The situation with Scio Township works, Clayton said, because Scio has funding to absorb three deputy positions that will be available because of cuts elsewhere. However, he said, the county needs to develop a system to manage the addition or subtraction of deputies as needed. That might include second-tier pricing, higher than the current price of a contract deputy, he said.

The police services steering committee had previously charged a financial subcommittee with evaluating the cost of deputy patrols. That group includes county commissioner Kristin Judge; Ann Arbor Township supervisor Mike Moran; Saline police chief Paul Bunten; Ypsilanti Township’s police services administrator Mike Radzik; and a representative from the county’s budget office. They had submitted a recommendation to the full committee several weeks ago.

At Monday’s meeting, Clayton said that instead of taking that recommendation to the board of commissioners, he wanted the subcommittee to reconvene and broaden their scope. The formula they’d devised for coming up with a price included all direct costs associated a deputy, a portion of the indirect costs and none of the overhead costs. Clayton wanted the subcommittee to go back and look at other issues –like the cost of maintaining a fleet of vehicles – and work that into their recommendation.

Additionally, he wants the subcommittee to tackle the issue of how to manage the addition or subtraction of deputy patrols, and make a recommendation about that process, including the second-tier pricing issue. He said he expects they’ll have a “spirited discussion.”

Dexter Township supervisor Pat Kelly said she felt comfortable with that, since Moran would be on the subcommittee representing the interests of townships who currently contract with the sheriff’s department. “Don’t miss that meeting, Mike!” she joked.

The subcommittee will bring back a recommendation to the police services steering committee, which will then forward it to the board of commissioners. The board will have final approval over any changes in pricing and policy.

Ypsilanti Township’s Millage Defeat

Bill McFarlane, Superior Township supervisor, said he was sorry that the public safety millage in Ypsilanti Township had been defeated on Nov. 3. “It will have an impact on everyone in the county,” he said.

McFarlane asked how it would affect the number of contract deputies in Ypsilanti Township. Brenda Stumbo, the township’s supervisor, reported that Ypsilanti Township expected to lose 10 of its 38 deputies as of Jan. 1,  because the township didn’t have the funds to pay for those positions without revenue from the millage.

The impact will be felt throughout the county, McFarlane said, because the 12 so-called “general fund deputies” – positions that are not being paid for by a specific municipality, and who are deployed throughout the county – will now be called on to respond to emergencies in Ypsilanti Township.

Sheriff Jerry Clayton said that he and Saline police chief Paul Bunten had discussed the overall decline in the number of law enforcement officers countywide, looking at all the various police departments, while total calls for service are increasing. In particular, the situation in Ypsilanti Township “concerns us greatly,” Clayton said.

He added that he was an optimist, and wasn’t willing to give up those 10 deputies yet – there might be some other options, he said.

Talking with The Chronicle after Monday’s meeting, Clayton clarified just what those options might be. He reported that the sheriff’s department will be coming in under budget for 2009 – the exact figures will be released later this year, he said – and those extra dollars might be used to offset the cost of the patrols in Ypsilanti Township. The department was able to generate new revenue this year by taking back its civil processing services, which were previously outsourced, Clayton said. Those services include handling foreclosures and serving court papers.

There might be other ways to generate new revenue next year too, Clayton said. That could possibly allow the department to  absorb some of those Ypsilanti Township positions on an interim basis, allowing the township to put a public safety millage on the ballot again in 2010. If it passes, then they’d have veteran officers on board ready to return as contract deputies for the township in 2011. He noted that one of the issues related to the cost of contract deputies is the question of who pays for training, especially for new officers.

In general, Clayton said his two priorities are maintaining public safety for all county residents, and preserving jobs for his staff.


  1. November 17, 2009 at 8:45 am | permalink

    “The impact will be felt throughout the county, McFarlane said, because the 12 so-called “general fund deputies” – positions that are not being paid for by a specific municipality, and who are deployed throughout the county – will now be called on to respond to emergencies in Ypsilanti Township.”

    Sorry, but I don’t agree with this. If Ypsilanti Township voters don’t want to pay for policing, that’s fine; they can do without. I don’t see why the rest of the county should be asked to subsidize them.

  2. By Township Taxpayer
    November 17, 2009 at 11:21 am | permalink

    No thanks Clayton. The township doesn’t need another election, the taxpayers have spoken. I think we should stop paying for the other 28 deputies as well. County services should be paid for at the county level. The level of service provided doesn’t justify additional payments by the township.

  3. By Richard
    November 17, 2009 at 12:20 pm | permalink

    Township Taxpayer…

    Um…Ypsi Township isn’t a small rural community anymore, its a large city. Large cities need to provide their own services, not leech off the County. Its time for Ypsi Township to grow up.

    It could start by dumping Brenda Stumbo. She is awful and cost the Township millions. Are before you start whining, I pay my taxes in Ypsi Township just like you.

  4. By Township Taxpayer
    November 17, 2009 at 12:43 pm | permalink

    Richard -

    The township is not a city and doesn’t receive city level services. We pay for Sheriff services through county taxes. I like Brenda; she is very responsive to resident’s concerns. If you want to pay for city level services, move to the city. The rest of us appreciate lower taxes.

  5. By Richard
    November 17, 2009 at 4:11 pm | permalink

    TT -

    Whether you like it or not Ypsilanti Township is a City. The debate on police services is clear evidence.

    Townships were set up to provide minimal services in rural communities. Ypsilanti Township is the second biggest jurisdiction in the County after Ann Arbor. You can’t have it both ways.

    Your arguement is a crock…If you want rural, move to a rural Township. Ypsilanti Township by its own actions has become a City.

    Based on your strange and convoluted logic, since residents in the City of Ypsilanti or Ann Arbor pay County taxes, just like you and I, they too should be entitled to police protection from the Sheriff’s Department.

    Brenda Stumbo and her clan cost the Township in excess of a million dollars with failed and ill advised lawsuit. But I guess you are ok with taxpayer money making lawyers rich.

    You should grow up…

  6. By Fabian
    November 17, 2009 at 7:47 pm | permalink

    As much as I would like to say, “Yes. Ypsilanti Twp should have started their own police department years ago. Yes, Ypsilanti Twp is a giagantic cash-hemorrhaging sore within Washtenaw County government.” Unfortunately, the reality is this…nobody, not any government in any state in this union should be trying to start their police department in these horrid economic times. Crime is becoming more rampant. Particular numbers may not be up in some urban areas, but look elsewhere. Burglaries, violent crimes are on the rise in specific rural communities. Why? Because criminals are fully aware of the fact that there are no police services in Sharon Twp, Lyndon Twp, Freedom Twp, Lima Twp, Saline Twp, Manchester Twp, and soon to be Augusta Twp. Daytime burglaries are getting ridiculously commonplace and area police agencies are having fewer and fewer resources to deal with routine property crimes let alone the violence and death that seems to be escalating in conjunction with the unemployment and home foreclosure rates.

    This is not the time to erect walls and declare “This is mine and I shouldn’t have to worry about yours.” This is the time we as citizens need to shake some sense into our local politicians and demand cooperation across jurisdictional lines. We need to re-evaluate and dispose of antiquated policies and wasteful budgeting formulas . We also need to change how we dole out resources as an entire county not just as individual cities, villages and townships. There needs to be a focus on centralizing and restructuring essential services such as police and fire services, road maintenance, public transportation and health and human services. There are obscene duplications of resources throughout this county that could be cut down. There are also gigantic gaps in services that could be filled in with some simple cooperation amongst communities.

    Unfortunately, if we centralize and restructure these bastions of government, it won’t take too long for politicians to realize that they are putting themselves out of work by eliminating political soapboxes. Individual department heads will have to be held accountable and budgets would be balanced across the county. Continuity in services could be realized and there won’t be such a striking contrast when you cross invisible lines of jurisdiction.

    Will there be anything left to argue and fight over? Rest assured, they’ll think of something.

  7. By Brian
    November 17, 2009 at 9:02 pm | permalink

    Fabian – You can’t centralize public safety unless there is equality in funding provided by all residents, regardless of location. That will never happen because certain communities demand more service than others, and certain communities don’t want to pay for the service even if more is needed.

    What you will end up with is a major disparity of service, and the level of service and focus areas will be controled by a few who direct the service accordingly. Communities like Ypsilanti Township will never want to pay the full price for the service as long as they are getting other county residents to chip in and subsidize it for them. Frankly, why should they? If my city was getting such a sweet deal, I wouldn’t want it to change either.

    Now we are hearing that the county may bend over backwards to try to accomodate them in the interim – all while waiting for a $1 million plus legal bill to be paid by Ypsilanti Township. That simply isn’t acceptable in my book.

  8. By Fabian
    November 18, 2009 at 8:56 am | permalink


    “What you will end up with is a major disparity of service, and the level of service and focus areas will be controled by a few who direct the service accordingly.”

    How is this any different from what is occurring right now? Crime and violence does not pay attention to the invisible lines drawn by government. A centralized system could work, and it would be much cheaper for everyone involved. You can utilize resources that would otherwise be unavailable to the Chelsea’s and Milan’s of this world. You can tap into an expansive personnel pool to fill in vacant shifts, increase access to specialized units, the list goes on and on.

    This idea that one community should pay more because “their” crime is higher than mine is silly. It’s all relative. Criminals prey on this kind of banter. And you are foolish to think otherwise.

    The only thing that will occur if the system remains status quo, is that crime will continue run rampant and police and fire departments will continue to shrink.

    Now, don’t get me wrong. There is no singular solution; but if we can develop a large scale regional police service where the money is managed on one plane and personnel can be shifted based upon need, then I think it’s worth looking into. Keeping the system flexible is key as well. Allowing the system to change and adapt to the financial times, crime patterns, etc. will allow the system to flourish and benefit everyone as a whole. This can be accomplished by a formal panel comprised of various political leaders from across the county as well as public safety officials.

    Continuing to do things the way we are now is not working and we desperately need to explore other options.

  9. November 18, 2009 at 10:25 am | permalink

    Is there really a reason to have a separate Ann Arbor police department? After the initial expense of the consolidation, one centralized law enforcement dept can provide equal (if not better) coverage/response at a better value. Plus the benefits to the citizens will be having the law enforcement underneath the control of an independent, elected official. Not happy with law enforcement, you get to make your voice heard every 4 years.

  10. By jcp2
    November 18, 2009 at 10:38 am | permalink

    I’ve always associated cities with city fire and protection services. Are there cities the size of Ann Arbor that do well without these departments under city jurisdiction?

  11. By Richard
    November 18, 2009 at 10:40 am | permalink

    Fred and Fabian…

    I think you are correct. We have a stange and costly system of overlapping services that cost a lot. As far as I can tell the only real rationale for having multiple systems is political control.

    You could use the same rationale for planning and zoning functions. The fact that every rural township has a seperate planning and zoning function is insane and costly.

  12. November 18, 2009 at 11:13 am | permalink


    Many have gone that way. In Florida, Jacksonville and Nassau County consolidated all services, including law enforcement. Some smaller cities chose to remain independent, but the county and main city became one. They renamed the sheriff’s office the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and kept the Sheriff an elected position. Many other examples exist of just police/fire consolidation.

  13. By AntiRedRidersNo1
    November 18, 2009 at 11:21 am | permalink

    1. Do you mean Duval County?

    2. I think a comparison with an entity that isn’t twice the population of Washtenaw County would be more appropriate to answer the question.

  14. November 18, 2009 at 1:02 pm | permalink

    Sorry… Duval.

    Again, this was one example. And it wasn’t just a police consolidation. It was an entire government consolidation.

    That being said… why would twice the population make a difference? If anything, that would show that it would be fine for something half the size.

    The bigger issue… why do you need two large departments splitting resources and creating bottlenecks? Crime doesn’t have the imaginary lines of jurisdiction that police agencies use. A criminal doesn’t care if they cross over into Ypsi over Ann Arbor… however the Ann Arbor Police dept will.

    One larger department, where the top official is an elected position, just makes sense. Many high level jobs can be phased out… you won’t need a chief of police in Ann Arbor for example.

  15. By jcp2
    November 18, 2009 at 3:15 pm | permalink

    I look forward to having our consolidated Washtenaw protections services compete with Broward for airtime on Cops.

  16. By Rod Johnson
    November 18, 2009 at 4:15 pm | permalink

    Is crime really “running rampant”?

  17. By Fabian
    November 18, 2009 at 8:35 pm | permalink

    “Running rampant” was used solely to iterate my point that criminals are becoming more brazen. Criminals are not hiding their behavior anymore. They are committing their crimes under the watchful eyes of video, in daylight and in full view of crowded streets. And I honestly believe this has a direct correlation with the recent political wrangling over the jail overcrowding situation, the “Pay for Patrols” Sheriff contracts and the depleted presence of the Michigan State Police and local police.

    I have been in the law enforcement field for 14 years now and I have never been more concerned with some of the behavior I have witnessed, than within the last year or so. It is of great concern in my opinion. And unfortunately I cannot rack my brain at this hour to offer opinions. But I would imagine that as an observant community member my statements are not far off. I think most people can tell that something is amiss.

    Reminds me of a quote from No Country For Old Men…
    “It’s the tide. The dismal tide. It is not the one thing.”
    Seems appropriate doesn’t it?

  18. By Richard
    November 19, 2009 at 11:25 am | permalink


    The idea that criminals are more brazen due to Sheriff contracts is silly and stupid.

    When the economy goes bad, crime goes up and vice versa. I used to work in Detroit in teh 1990′s when unemployment was way down and crime was minimal.

    Of course, if you are in the law enforcement industry you see crime every day, so you have no perspective.