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Police for Clarkston?

Committee to consider all options, including new millage request

September 11, 2013 - Does the City of the Village of Clarkston need more police? Some city officials think so, and they're appointing a committee to study how to increase its police coverage.

City Councilman Richard Bisio recommended the study, saying residents spoke to him about lax parking enforcement, vandalism in Depot Park, and a recent home invasion in the city.

"I don't believe the city can afford to reestablish the police department, but there are other options like hiring a part-time officer or contracting with the OCSO (Oakland County Sheriff's Office) for a dedicated deputy to cover the area," Bisio said. "It's clear and should be a surprise to no one that the sheriff department cannot provide the same leverage of police coverage that the city had when it had its when police force."

Council voted 4-2, Aug. 26, to form the committee by the end of September. It will explore city options and report back to the council.

Councilman Stephen Hargis opposed forming the committee.

"Wounds are not healed," from when the Clarkston Police Department was disbanded, three years ago, Hargis said.

He added the city needs to "lean harder" on OCSO to get the services the city needs rather than paying to increase coverage.

The city contracts with Independence Township for police service, provided by deputies out of the Independence Township substation.

Independence Township Supervisor Pat Kittle said the city pays about $100,000 a year for police coverage, about $139,000 less per year than it did when the city had its own force.

Independence substation covers the township's 36 square mile area while the former Clarkston police covered the city's one square mile.

"They don't have the personnel to dedicate a fulltime deputy to the city," remarked Bisio.

In September 2010, Clarkston disbanded its police force after voters rejected a millage to fund it. Bisio said the police millage, which failed by seven votes, was not properly presented to voters.

The city should consider another millage request to increase police coverage, he said.

Councilman Michael Sabol agreed with Bisio's recommendation, and said he too believes the city should explore options for more police service.

Last July, City Manager Carol Eberhardt said deputies were not writing enough tickets in the city, and told council she would meet with Kittle and Lt. Dirk Feneley, Independence substation commander, to discuss the matter. The meeting was in August.

She complained deputies only wrote two tickets in July, and was told that was a clerical error.

An August report from the Sheriff Department shows there were 150 total incidents in the city, which included 44 traffic offenses.

Independence Township substation has 28 deputies, including lieutenant, three sergeants, three detectives, two school liaisons, and 20 road patrol deputies, with one shared with Brandon.

Mayor Joe Luginski did not respond to an email with questions regarding the issue.

Staff writer
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