An agreement bridged between the Waterford Township Board of Trustees and the Michigan Association of Police Officers (MAP) union was approved on Tuesday, Aug. 28 to allow more part-time officers to patrol township streets.
The 30-percent increase in part-time Waterford officers will be drawn from the ranks of currently laid-off Waterford officers or those from other communities, as well as retired police. They will be compensated on an hourly basis and will not be entitled to benefits.
“This is a very unique agreement which has been rejected by unions in other communities,” said Waterford Township Supervisor Carl Solden. “By this agreement, our officers have demonstrated their commitment to the Waterford community by allowing for additional police protection that we can afford.”
“The citizens should be happy that the union recognized the need and is helping to cut costs,” said Police Chief Dan McCaw.
The union made the concession due to the financial hardship the township is facing.
“Normally, using part-time officers without benefits would be objectionable,” said Fred Timpner, executive director of the Michigan Association of Police, the parent organization of the MAP union. “But in these troubled economic times, our members believed concessions were the best way we could provide appropriate police protection to the citizens of Waterford.”
According to the agreement, the part-time officers will be deployed strictly for street patrol. They will be fully trained and must meet the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards.
In another recent budget-related move for the Police Department, the township will be seeking approval of a special assessment district (SAD) for police services not to exceed 1.95 mills, during the Nov. 6 general election. If the ballot initiative passes, some of the part-time officers may be offered full-time positions.
“Right now, we have nine officers laid off and several retired in 2010,” McCaw said. “At one time we budgeted for 106 and now have less than half that makes up patrol, command, detectives and others assigned to different tasks, leaving 28 on the street. We would get two officers right away and offer those laid off to come back part-time until we can recall them to full-time.”
Unlike a normal millage, the SAD can be readjusted since it requires approval every year.
“What’s nice about an SAD is that as the economy turns around and we don’t need the funding, then (the rate) can be lowered because every year it has to be approved,” McCaw said.
Costs are expected at roughly $96 per year, McCaw said.
“You’re talking 24 cents a day to put several more officers on the street and restore some detectives,” McCaw said. “Right now we can’t investigate a lot of major crimes because we don’t have the staff.”
Around 2003 the department employed 13 detectives. Today, that number is four.
The SAD would also be used to keep the township lockup open 24 hours a day.
“Right now if someone is arrested during the day, we send them to court, they are arraigned and then lodged in the (Oakland) County Jail,” McCaw said. “But if (they are) arrested at night for misdemeanors, other than domestic (assaults) and drunk driving, they are given a citation and released, but really some of them need to be locked up.”
Residents are encouraged to voice their suggestions on what police services to retain by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.