Village pitches police services to twp.
December 15, 2010 - It was a rather subdued reception from Oxford Township officials as they listened to a proposal from the village to take over policing the entire township for less than the municipality is currently paying.
Created by Keith Redlin, a corporal with the village police reserve and a township resident, the proposal offers the township a total of 18 uniformed officers for an estimated contract cost of $1.76 million in the first year.
That includes two full-time patrol sergeants, four full-time officers, 10 part-time officers, one full-time juvenile/school liaison officer and one full-time detective. It also includes a records clerk and access to 12 reserve officers.
"This is your police force that would be dedicated to Oxford Township, not dedicated to Addison, Brandon or any surrounding townships or municipalities," Redlin told the township board.
Currently, the township is served by the Oakland County Sheriff's Department and has been since February 2000.
In the first year alone, Redlin estimated the township would save $387,805 over the current police budget of $2.15 million. Over five years, he projected the township could save $2.67 million.
Redlin believes his proposal would provide the township with an increased police presence in the community in the form of vehicle and bicycle patrols plus officers in parks, neighborhoods and schools.
He believes bicycle patrols are particularly important.
"It's amazing what a deterrent it is when juveniles see a bicycle officer at 9 or 10 o'clock at night driving through the community," Redlin said. "I can guarantee you that our bike division would be in full force in the neighborhoods."
To those who may be concerned that Redlin's proposal consists of more part-time officers than full-time ones, he noted part-timers "go through the exact same police school."
"They have the exact same accreditation as a full-time officer would have," he said. "They go through the same training techniques that everyone in our police department, except our reserves, go through."
Redlin believes one of the most important facets of his proposal is the inclusion of a school liaison officer to provide "guidance" and "mentoring" to Oxford students.
He indicated the school district offered to partially fund such a position, but nothing ever happened.
"Nobody really took advantage of that or nobody could figure out how to close that (funding) gap," Redlin said.
The school district had budgeted $50,000 for the 2010-11 fiscal year to help fund an officer, however, Assistant Superintendent Tim Loock stated in Dec. 9 e-mail "that money has been reallocated as the police liaison position will not be implemented this year."
Redlin received some support for his proposal from the audience.
"I think the plan that Corporal Redlin presented was very creative in its budgeting and trying to keep that community feeling that downtown Oxford has," said Ron Dybalski, a 12-year township resident who lives in the Oxford Woods subdivision. "When I go downtown, I feel safe with my family. When I'm in my neighborhood, I don't see any of the police or the sheriff's (deputies). I'm playing with my kid every day and I hardly ever see a (patrol) car. I see bikes in Oxford (Village). I see officers talking to children, building up a trust and a respect for the law."
Dybalski noted that since the joint township-village police department disbanded in 2000, he's seen "a decline in the patrolling" coupled with a rise in crime.
"I've seen an increase in vandalism in our neighborhood," he said. "We've had numerous accounts of kids breaking the curfew, ringing doorbells, throwing eggs at houses.
"One of our neighbors got their car covered with condiments, believe it or not. Mustard and ketchup. That's something that ruins the paint on a car."
But not everyone was as receptive or supportive of Redlin's proposal.
Township Trustee Sue Bellairs was skeptical of the plan.
"What I heard was a projected assumption of what costs would be, validated on nothing," she said. "The county department has validated their numbers."
Bellairs indicated she's unwilling to take a chance on switching police agencies.
"I don't want to take a gamble," she said. "This is not the time and the economy to take a gamble with anything that isn't proven. We've already got a proven police department that the voters of the township voted for, voted for their renewal."
Treasurer Joe Ferrari felt if there are any issues with the service provided by the sheriff's department, the township and county should address them together.
"If we as a board are unhappy with the sheriff's (department) for whatever reason, I think we owe them a common courtesy to work with them through that," he said.
Ferrari noted how the township and village gave the old joint police department "many, many ways and opportunities to improve" before it was ultimately dissolved following two failed millage votes in 1999.