(02/15/13) - There are new developments in Saginaw regarding the city police
department and the possibility it will be run by the sheriff's department.
The city of Saginaw sent a contract to Saginaw County Sheriff Bill Federspiel to have the county police the city, Friday, but the sheriff says he's not happy with the plan he received. He says it's the same proposal from last year.
His answer was 'no' then, and his answer is 'no' now.
The sheriff says he is still open to talks with Saginaw city manager Darnell Early, but he is not an favor of this proposal. Federspiel say the current proposal does not provide for enough officers, and the city needs to solve its union issues first.
It was a few months ago we learned the city may have to go down to 55 police officers because of a budget deficit. At the time, it sounded like it would be a disaster if that happened, but the interim police chief now says it can be done.
"We've been streamlining the department as officers have retired or left for other jobs," said Brian Lipe, Saginaw interim police chief.
Just two years ago, Saginaw had nearly 100 police officers. The department is down to 73, and Lipe says if a $3.2 million budget shortfall for the city of Saginaw means he will have only 55 positions, so be it.
"As we've continued our partnerships with the State Police and federal agencies, we believe we can do it with 55 officers," he said.
He says the department will be short a few road patrol officers and a few detectives, but he says it's possible additional grant money could help retain a few positions.
Saginaw Police union president Doug Wortley says the union is working on its own proposal that will be sent to city leaders, which includes fewer cuts to the department. If it comes to working with 55, he says he'd rather have that than contract out with the sheriff's department.
"We've worked with over 100, I've worked with under 100 - 55 is a different animal," Wortley said. "It's a way of saying to the city, you know what, we can handle this on our own."
Lipe said that regardless of what Sheriff Federspiel does with the contract proposal, he has to be ready to run the department with whatever positions are available.
"We plan on proceeding that if that contract is not there," he said.
The sheriff says he will take the proposal to his staff and they will go over it. He says he's open to policing the city, but not until the union issue is solved.
ABC12 Main Station