by STEVE GRIMM
Cannon Township Supervisor
On March 28, 2011, the Cannon Township Board unanimously approved a new contract with the Kent County Sheriff’s Department. Under the new contract Cannon pays for a 12-hour shift, replacing the two eight-hour shifts for which we were previously paying.
At the time this was implemented, our concern was our ability to maintain the level of service with the diminished hours. While there has been no significant diminution in criminal activity in Cannon Township this year, there has also been no diminution in our ability to handle it. In other words, cutting our dedicated law enforcement hours from 16 hours per day to 12 made no difference in the level of service.
By decreasing the hours and maintaining the level of service, we have saved the taxpayers over $75,000 per year. Based on these numbers, the Sheriff’s Dept. has told us that at present, there is no need to increase the hours back to 16.
These results are very interesting, and inspirational to those who favor leaner government with no diminution in service. One area we did not reduce was supplemental patrols, which provide extra coverage in the summer. We extended that coverage to Rockford home game nights and Halloween. The extra patrols are staggered during the summer to maximize visibility and deterrence.
One of the discussions that have taken place is paying for law enforcement with a millage versus the use of the township’s general fund monies. Millage monies would be used by the Sheriff’s Department without any control or input from the township. If general fund monies are dedicated for the Sheriff’s Department, the township can specify how those monies are to be allocated. The township spends $231,000 for the 12-hour shift coverage. The Board believes that taxes are high enough without adding another millage for law enforcement, which is the most basic service a township should provide.
Recently, there were several break-ins of cars in the Bella Vista area. The sheriff’s dispatch received a call regarding suspicious activity in the early morning hours when an overtime car was in the area. The quick response of the overtime car resulted in the identification of a suspect. According to Lt. Scott Brown, the subsequent investigation led to charges on three individuals for larceny from autos as well as the recovery of several stolen items.
You may have noticed the Sheriff’s Department Bike Patrol riding along the township trail system. This patrol is another way the township can utilize the services available to us.
This is all being done with a reduction of $75,000 from the previous contract without any diminution in services. The cooperation between the Sheriff’s Department and its officers and the township “enforces” how good government should work.