The Wolverine Lake Village Council has opted to put lake patrol duties back into the hands of the village’s own police department.
Last year, the village contracted with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department Marine Division, mainly due to an estimated $10,000 cost the village would have had to pony up for a new engine for its marine patrol boat.
Since that time, however, the projected cost to repair the village’s patrol boat has decreased. The boat will not require a new engine and can be repaired at a fraction of the cost, at about $1,500.
“It’s cost-efficient to do it rather than relinquishing it to the sheriff’s department, which did a fine job, but our citizens prefer us to handle it if we can do it,” said Wolverine Lake Police Captain John Ellsworth. “Now we’ll be able to provide the service less expensively ourselves and add a few more hours of coverage, too,” said Village Council President John Magee.
At a work session held on March 23, the Wolverine Lake Water Management Board agreed with the council to reclaim the marine patrol service.
“We concurred with council’s decision,” said Water Board Chairman Cliff Yantz. “Basically it’s a cost factor, but the sheriff’s department did a good job and offered random patrols that (former Police) Chief Joe George said he couldn’t do at that time.”
Now that Ellsworth is in charge of the police department, random lake patrols will be part of monitoring lake activity.
“He said he would set aside a four-hour block to catch people who speed and think no one is out patrolling the lake,” Yantz said. “It helps with overall control.”
“I’ll be doing things a little different than Chief George by utilizing part-time police officers,” Ellsworth said. “The union agreed to give us that ability so we can schedule random patrols, whether it be evenings or mornings. We will have the flexibility now to not pull officers off the road to do it.”
Oakland County would have charged the village $31.18 an hour for marine patrols this year — including boat use and overhead costs — compared to the cost of $17 per hour for a Wolverine Lake police officer’s time to monitor lake activity.