Sheriff- Part II
As promised N3 is delivering the goods on the second set of responses to questions posed by members of our community to the candidates for Sheriff.
We again thank those submitting questions for their participation in this process as well as...
...the candidates for their timely replies.
We will be continuing our pre- election coverage with the candidates for County Clerk the next to step up and face the latest quiz posed from the community.
And now, back to the race for Sheriff.
N3 Editorial Team
6. What are the funding sources for the sheriff’s department and how will you work to assure that adequate funding is available to run the department to provide the level of service needed in the county?
Our road patrol is funded heavily from a Public Safety/Road Patrol millage which is up for RENEWAL on August 2nd. This was originally a 1 mill levy and due to the Headley Rollback Amendment, is now .9968 mills. We are asking the public for a renewal of that essential millage.
The county general fund contributes to the road patrol and other areas of the department.
Our jail houses federal prisoners for the U.S. Marshal’s service. We are paid a per diem for each inmate in our facility. This generates a great deal of revenue, however, the cost of the operation is costly as well. This program was started by my predecessors and is still in place today. This program has helped the community by providing jobs, adding much needed revenue to the county and improving assets owned by the county. The previous Sheriff’s and County Commissioners did a good job with getting these programs in place.
Federal and State grants. The department receives some of these annually. However, there are many other opportunities for grants dollars that have not been sought in the past. I have a long history of successfully obtaining grant dollars to enhance law enforcement and to help offset the costs to local taxpayers to provide services that are needed but not in place. I have continued to do so as Sheriff, most recently by obtaining money to provide ORV enforcement to many areas of our county who have long been plagued by weekend ORV problems.
Private funds. We are blessed to have the Fremont Area Community Foundation and the Gerber Foundation in Newaygo County. We will continue to seek collaboration with other stakeholders and partners in the county to improve safety and the quality of living for all of us. The Fremont Area Community Foundation and the Gerber Foundation have long histories in our county and we truly are blessed to have those organizations in our community.
We are also blessed to have many generous and dedicated service organizations, private businesses and churches in our county. Agencies like True North, Consumers Energy, Great Lakes Energy and Habitat for Humanity among many, many others, do so much for people. There are too many businesses and organizations to list. We are committed to working with such groups in any way we can to improve our quality of life and reduce crime.
We are also blessed to have other organizations like the Eagles Club, The Moose, The Masons, the VFW, American Legion and many, many others. My late father, who was a disabled World War II veteran, was a member of many of these organizations. I grew up watching and even helping my Dad work with the Disabled American Veteran’s, the VFW in Howard City and the Michigan Home for Veteran’s in Grand Rapids. As a Service Officer for these organizations, he helped hundreds of disabled vets obtain the disability benefits that they so richly deserved after serving our country.
In 2015, the Eagles Club in White Cloud sponsored a fundraising drive to help us purchase a second K-9 dog and to pay to train the dog and the handler. As a former
K-9 handler myself, I have been to many K-9 unit fundraisers over the years. The Eagles raised over $20,000! That is by and large the BEST fundraiser for a K-9 Unit I have ever seen! As a member of the Eagles and a resident of White Cloud, I am very, very proud of what they did.
All of organizations and so many more, help our community. Often times, much needed dollars, hours, sweat and work help us in our mission of keeping Newaygo County safe. Those hours, sweat, work and dollars are very much appreciated and make us proud to be residents of Newaygo County.
Jail “pay to stay” fees and booking fees. These fees are assessed upon local inmates who are housed in our jail. This helps us offset a small portion of the large cost to run the jail.I have also been working with experts in the area of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and how that impacts our operations in the jail related to inmate medical care. In the past, county taxpayers have paid for a great deal of medical care for local inmates that may be, or are covered by Medicaid. Many of these hospitalizations could and should be paid for by the Medicaid program and NOT by local tax dollars. Realizing it is all tax money (Medicaid, etc), this at least keeps our local tax funds in our coffers and puts some of the burden for healthcare back onto the inmates themselves.
Charges for services. Again, some services performed by our office have a fee attached to them, set by the county board of commissioners. Examples: Fingerprinting, copies of police reports, salvage vehicle inspections, vehicle auction fees, etc. These charges help us recover a small portion of the costs of such services.
We must explore collaboration and eliminate any duplication of effort. We must continue to use technology to make us more efficient. And we must not be afraid to find and implement new models of policing. In these ways, we can continue to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars.
The Road Patrol Millage is our greatest resource of funds which renews every 10 years. The Federal contract provides appropriations for our jail. It is important to note that our role is not to generate revenue, but use available revenues and grants to provide maximum service as effectively as possible. Further, I believe as Sheriff, that I need to be the greatest advocate for this millage. It is necessary and proper to make sure each officer and staff member is outfitted with the required resources to do their job effectively and efficiently.
I, as Sheriff, believe that the money that is available is not to be spent in frivolity and that a high level of fiscal responsibility ensures the taxpayers that their money is being used wisely and saved when possible. Working with current NCSO staff will help properly reorganize the department to provide a higher level of response and effectiveness. I will also implement a long term strategic plan to address equipment and personnel costs
7. The issue of behavioral health (both mental health and substance abuse) is and should be a very relevant issue for law enforcement both in the community and within the jail where unfortunately there has been a growing prevalence of persons with BH issues amongst the incarcerated. What is your perception of the issue and what role does law enforcement, more specifically were you to be Sheriff, can and should NCSD play towards the management of this issue?
One of the biggest problems we face as law enforcement is the closure of many facilities that addressed these issues. Instead of having access to that resource, many people end up in our jail system. Programs need to be in place and encouraged by the NCSO. Officers also need to be trained and made aware of these programs. An active relationship with Community Mental Health will better prepare our department to meet the needs of these ongoing issues in the current era of dwindling resources knowing that they are losing funds just like we are.
First, I have a brother who was long ago diagnosed with Schizophrenia. Our family, like so many other families, have struggled with the challenges this brings. Those families are in my thoughts and prayers. It can be devastating and heartbreaking.
Often times, mentally ill people are incarcerated when what they really need is treatment, medication and/or hospitalization. I saw first-hand, the struggles of our family as we were time and again let down by the criminal justice system, our medical system and the mental health system.
One of the things this ongoing experience has caused me to do as a Law Enforcement leader is to require on-going training in dealing with persons with mental health issues. Police and Corrections officers get such training in their respective academies and colleges. However, on-going training in this area is essential, cheap and easy to implement. We are planning such a training in the Sheriff’s Department this fall.
Law Enforcement has a “big ten” list of training topics that we are encouraged to do on an annual or semi-annual basis. Dealing with persons with mental health issues is one of those “big ten” training items.
For certain offenses in which a mentally ill person is arrested, incarceration is not the answer. We need to get those people out of jail, into a hospital and back into a treatment regimen. I have seen this too many times over the years and will work with mental health professionals in whatever way possible to make sure we take care of people who suffer from an illness through no fault of their own.
Substance abuse issues have long plagued society. Ask any cop or corrections officer. They see more people who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol in a single year, than a person would ever want to see in their lifetime. As Sheriff, I will continue to work with stakeholders in an effort to get offenders the help they need to the best of my ability and within the confines of the law.
8. If elected sheriff, what will you do to encourage and mentor women and minorities to enter the law enforcement field?
I will continue to do what I have done for over thirty years in law enforcement and corrections. I have always encouraged people from all walks of life to strive to be the best police officers and corrections officers they could be. I love giving people opportunities. I hired, trained and promoted the first female police chief Newaygo County has had. I hired her because she came from a good family, with a great work ethic, she was intelligent and she possessed strong will, character and integrity. I have hired and trained dozens of such people who are now serving in many parts of Michigan and other states as detectives, state troopers, deputies, police officers, Chiefs of Police, Chief Deputies, Sergeants, Undersheriffs and Sheriffs. I am very proud of that. My record in this area is second to none.
We need people who are the most qualified for positions, regardless of sex or race, etc. That is what I have always done, and that is what I will continue to do. I have always created well-rounded teams of people who each bring their own talents to the table to get the job done well.
Exposing people with a positive image through programs such as CSI Camp, Law Enforcement Camps, Civilian Ride-A-Longs, and establishing an Explorer/Cadet Program will provide a greater resource for recruitment and retention. Having well-rounded officers that are capable of understanding and communicating to people of all cultures and backgrounds will allow us to reach every community within Newaygo County.
9. How will you build positive relationships with the youth in this county?
I will encourage officers to be actively involved in the community they live and serve. There are plenty of opportunities to give back through youth sport programs, hunter/firearm safety, boater safety, after school programs, boy/girl scouts, parks and recreation programs, and church youth groups.
It is vitally important that officers get into schools during the school year to provide safety and outreach to the student population.
We will continue our programs with youth that offer outreach and involvement. As one of the original founders of the annual Kids Day Event in Newaygo, I can say that this program gives younger children the opportunity to see police officers and corrections officers in a fun, non-threatening environment. For many of these kids, Kids Day is the first time they’ve ever encountered an officer. They have a fun day and a positive experience.
Additionally, outreach programs like the CSI camp and other programs like Summer Magic helps us to reach kids and teens in a positive and non-threatening way.
I am also a big supporter of T.E.A.M. teaching in our schools. We will continue to offer this training to our children.
In addition, our ORV enforcement deputies both recently became certified ORV safety instructors. Those classes are now being offered to kids and parents alike.
We will continue to work with the community on such events and I am completely open about any other outreach programs that may work and are affordable.
10. What is the greatest resource/asset for building safe communities in Newaygo County?
Besides the men and women police and corrections officers in our county, the greatest asset we have are our community members, our churches, our schools, our service clubs, our business owners and service organizations. As Sheriff, I recognize that we must work with these people and organizations in partnership in order to keep the community safe and to improve our quality of life. A safe county also adds improved economic growth which benefits all of us.
In addition, I have long understood that we must INCLUDE our community members and groups as partners and give them real opportunities for input into the models of police services we provide. Their voices must be heard and we must develop a better model of a “problem solving” style of policing.
Our greatest resource/asset are the individuals and families who work together to build community where people are its focus. A healthy and proactive Sheriff's Department working to provide the resources necessary which offer those individuals the opportunity to become involved in community programs such as Neighborhood Watches, Headway, and other programs help contribute to the safety and vibrancy of Newaygo County.
Primary Election -Tuesday August 2nd.
Do you know where your polling place is?
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