The Waterford Township Police Department is one of four recipients in Oakland County of a Michigan Automobile Theft Prevention Authority (ATPA) grant designed to reduce the number of stolen vehicles.
The Oakland County Board of Commissioners approved the grant acceptance via a resolution at its Oct. 4 meeting.
“The program gives money to the Oakland County Sheriff Department (OCSD) to track stolen vehicles,” explained Oakland County Commissioner Jim Runestad (R-Waterford, White Lake). “They use a lot of informants to go after ‘chop-shops’ who chop up the cars and sell them.”
Of the approximately $1.37 million total grant award, Waterford Township will net $51,088.
A 50 percent local match is required.
Waterford’s ATPA budget is pegged at $95,676 for salaries and benefits, for which it is reimbursed $47,838. Another $3,250 is budgeted for a police vehicle.
Other task force grant recipients include the Farmington Hills, Hazel Park, and Detroit police departments, along with the city of Pontiac, which contracts with the OCSD.
“ATPA creates the funding mechanism (for) the task force to track down felons that follows up on tips of thefts and fraud,” said OCSD Captain Mark Newman.
The program is funded by $1 from every auto insurance policy in the state. That contribution goes to offset the cost of salaries and benefits for task force members, as well as provide police vehicle subsidies.
“Insurance companies tell us that your comprehensive insurance rates are reduced by $56 for every $1 that goes into the program because these investigative units are successful in reducing thefts,” Newman said.
Ten detectives in total currently make up the task force across participating communities.
“Each community gets at least one detective assigned to the task force, plus they get other officers’ help as needed,” Newman said.
The number of investigators has been cut since 1987, when ATPA was initially established to dole out money to law enforcement agencies that submit applications to combat auto thefts in their respective communities.
“The funding hasn’t changed since 1987 and it’s not uncommon for the task force to get involved with other thefts apart from auto vehicles and technically that’s not part of the grant funding,” Newman said.