(08/17/12) - The Saginaw County Sheriff is setting the record straight after
much talk about contracting police services with the city of Saginaw.
Sheriff Bill Federspiel called a press conference Friday to say he is not in negotiations with the city. He said he does not want to get in the middle of negotiations between city leaders and police union officials. He's not in a position to do so anyway, because the city is under contract with Saginaw PD.
The Sheriff says city leaders approached him in May, asking for a proposal to contract police services. He in turn told them he would need approval from the people through their elected council to move forward.
ABC12 News has learned his proposed contract would cost the city a little more than $9 million a year. The city now pays $14 million annually for police.
The sheriff says he would put 108 officers in the city, roughly 20 more than the current staffing level. He says those numbers are based on contract agreements with his staff.
"My job is not policing the city," Federspiel said. "The citizens of Saginaw have repeatedly said they want their own agency, they have voted for a millage on numerous occasions. They pay 7.5 mills for their agency. It's not incumbent upon me to insert myself in between the citizens and their police department. The citizens I have talked to do want their police department, so I don't want people misconstruing the fact that I have given numbers to the city as an attempt for me to take over that agency, because that's not true."
Sgt. Jim Cross represents Saginaw's command officers.
"We have an union contract and it's not that old. We are more than happy to talk to the city about some things. I think there are a lot of options, there's talk about bringing the fire department and the police together, I don't know where that will go," Cross said.
City councilman Andrew Wendt says the city has lost more than $3.5 million in revenue sharing and they can no longer pay for public safety the way they do now.
"We can't afford 70 percent of the general fund used just for public safety. We have to think outside the box and ahead so that we some kind of public safety for the people of Saginaw," Wendt said.
The city and police unions agreed to a contract last year, and they are willing to re-open the agreement to keep officers working.
The Sheriff says even if the city and the union want to look at the sheriff's office for consolidation, he may be inclined to say no because he has to believe it would be a model of success.
He also knows people who live in Saginaw want to keep their police department intact.
ABC12 Main Station