CHARLOTTE, Mich. — Call it the cost of doing business, but the Eaton County sheriff says he’s going to have to cut some services after the county’s Board of Commissioners denied his request for enough money to give his employees $10,000 retention bonuses.
The changes could mean that you’ll see fewer deputies on the roads. Starting next month between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m., Eaton County sheriff's deputies will not be out patrolling or helping "out-county" police departments.
The move is expected to put a strain on the out-county municipalities the sheriff's office assists with.
"During those hours, we are not going to be out there to assist them. It's more pressure on them. There's going to be more types of crimes that they are going to need backup, and we're not going to be available," said Eaton County Sheriff Tom Reich.
Reich has been asking for the county to give his agency the funding to give $10,000 bonuses to his employees, but that request was denied.
The changes in service are a direct result of that but county Board of Commissioners Chair Jeremy Whittum says the sheriff's department being understaffed has been an issue since at least 2021.
"When I met with Sheriff Reich, he explained to me that between now and close of business in 2024, we are going to have half of our deputies retire. With the national anti-police movement we have nationally and because of federal policy changes, that's what hampering our ability to attract and retain qualified talent," said Whittum.
However, Reich says the solution to the shortage of deputies is very simple.
"I don't know where he's coming from, but I brought it up. I said we've got this ARPA [American Rescue Plan Act] money. It didn't cost the taxpayers anything. Let's give the deputies $10,000 this year and $10,000 next year," said Reich.
As an alternative to Reich's request, the board decided to re-open the contracts for deputies to rework the pay and benefits.
The board is slated to talk about the contracts on Sept. 12, but no date has been set yet to meet with the Collective Bargaining Unit.
The reduction in service will go into effect toward the end of September.
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