Ithaca considering plan to have sheriff's department patrol city - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Ithaca considering plan to have sheriff's department patrol city

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(02/05/13) - It's well-known that the city of Saginaw is pursuing a plan to have the Saginaw County Sheriff's Department patrol the city. Another meeting is planned for Wednesday.

Another Mid-Michigan community is exploring the idea as well. The city of Ithaca is considering contracting its police services with the Gratiot County Sheriff's Department. But it is far from a done deal.

"We're a small town and we don't have a lot of crime, but that could be in fact because we have enough police officers," said city resident, Angela MacLaren.

Ithaca's city manager says that wouldn't change under the current proposal. "We're absolutely not talking about getting rid of police, if anything we want to enhance service level," Chelsey Foster said.

Sheriff Doug Wright is a longtime city resident. He believes it's a win-win for the people of Ithaca, who haven't had a full time police chief since October of 2011. "We will bring a sheriff, an undersheriff, a detective and a lieutenant overseeing that position. As well as the other assets we have."

"We're trying to take it step by step," Foster said.

That includes answering all those questions from people who live here, like the one MacLaren has. "Are there going to be less police officers out there patrolling," MacLaren said.

MacLaren remains open-minded. "I can see where if they want to save money that, that might be an option."

The draft proposal shows a potential savings of $100,000 a year. Also, the city's three full time officers would be hired, and the three part-timers would be considered.

Terrie Randolph who lives in the city, and owns a business here, likes how things are now. "I feel that the taxes we are paying, we probably will have to pay a little more be able to keep the local people here, I think would be well worth it."

After a meeting Tuesday evening, Ithaca council members decided to plan a few public hearings on the proposal so residents could learn more and weigh in. 

The hearings are not scheduled yet, but city officials hope to get something in the works soon.

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