Saginaw's city manager speaks about public safety proposal - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Saginaw's city manager speaks about public safety proposal

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(02/22/13) - Who will patrol the streets of Saginaw?

It's an issue city leaders and the Saginaw County Sheriff have been trying to hammer out, as the city faces a multi-million dollar shortfall.

Friday morning, we heard from Saginaw City Manager Darnell Earley, one week after the Sheriff turned down a proposal to take over the police department.

Earley argues that the city can't spend money it doesn't have. He says if an agreement isn't made soon, that could mean budget cuts.

The sheriff has said 'no' over and over to the proposal to have the sheriff's department patrol the city with 80 full time officers and four part timers. The sheriff argues that he needs more than 100 officers to do a successful job.

Earley said Friday morning that he provided the sheriff a proposal that the city can afford to pay for.

The acting police chief says he can patrol the city with 55 officers.

Earley says 55, in his opinion, is a number that can be managed. He argues that the city can afford to get 84 full and part time deputies if the sheriff agrees to a contract. If an agreement isn't reached, that means cuts could be on the way.

"It's public budgeting 101, and if you don't follow it, you'll wind up like cities south of here on I-75 that have had to have state intervention and who cannot seem to get it right. We're going to get it right here in Saginaw despite the push back," Earley said.

This week, the Saginaw Police Officers Association and the Command Officers Association filed grievances against the city, saying the proposed contract with the sheriff violates at least three parts of the officers' contracts.

"I think their time would be better spent sitting down with us and trying to find ways to cut expenditures in the public safety budget. So far, all they've done is a lot of disrespectful and threatening talk and a lot of political stuff, which does nothing to move us forward toward solving the city's financial problem," Earley said.

Earley wants to have conversations with the sheriff in the future.

"He has not officially notified me that he won't provide the services. As far as I'm concerned, the matter's still open for discussion and that's all this is, discussion and negotiation. The final decision about any of these matters are public policy related and is for Saginaw City Council to decide. I don't decide this, neither does the sheriff," he said.

The sheriff says he is open to having more conversations about the city's proposal in the future.

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