Contract would initially be for 90 days
By Jim Newell
LAKE ORION — The Village of Lake Orion will contract police services with Orion Township for at least 90 days to help fill the void in the Lake Orion Police Department after several recent resignations.
“The Village of Lake Orion Police Department has experienced a staffing emergency as a result of multiple police officer resignations for separate and personal reasons,” said Lake Orion Village Council President Jerry Narsh.
The village council held a special meeting on Sunday afternoon and approved contracting police services with the township for 90 days, with 30-day extensions added if the village police department needs additional time. The motion passed 5-0. Council members Nancy Moshier and Michael Lamb were excused from the meeting.
The contract between the village and township would run from Dec. 3, 2023 through March 3, 2024. Additional time could be added, if needed. The village would pay for one Oakland County Sheriff’s Office deputy per shift from the Orion Township Substation.
“I don’t have the per deputy rate, but it’s the per deputy rate that everybody pays,” Narsh said. “It’s the stock, per deputy rate that everyone pays that contracts with the sheriff’s office. And that’s what we’ll pay per hour.”
Orion Township deputies began providing coverage to the village as of 7 a.m. Sunday, said village Manager Darwin McClary, who told council that he would use the police coverage agreement between Independence Township and the City of the Village Clarkston as a model and tailor it to Lake Orion’s needs.
Narsh said he “had an excellent meeting” with Orion Township Supervisor Chris Barnett on Sunday before the council’s special meeting to discuss contracting police services between the village and Orion Township deputies.
The Orion Township Board of Trustees unanimously approved the deal during its meeting on Monday.
The deal allows acting police Chief Todd Stanfield time to interview candidates and hire and train officers to join the Lake Orion Police Department.
“As council is aware, two full-time police officers have resigned to accept positions with other departments and another officer left the employ of the village several months ago,” said village Manager Darwin McClary in a summary to the council. “Interim Chief Stanfield is working to fill these positions, but it has become necessary to identify alternative temporary law enforcement services until the Lake Orion Police Department is back to full staffing.”
That left just Stanfield as the lone full-time LOPD officer.
“It allows Chief Stanfield to rebuild,” Narsh said, adding that the LOPD would use part time officers for events in the village.
Under the agreement, Stanfield would be on duty in the village from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Sheriff’s Office deputies would patrol the village from 3 p.m. to 7 a.m. on weekdays and cover all shifts over the weekend.
Narsh added that “the good news is he (Stanfield) has received a stack of applications and is working through those applications. There are some officer candidates in that stack who are extremely viable candidates who have experience.”
While the LOPD is experiencing staffing shortages, it’s a common problem in law enforcement right now, said Narsh, who is the police chief in the Village of Holly and is the former chief of the LOPD.
“Every police agency in the country is understaffed and in distress for multiple reasons,” Narsh said. “It is a national emergency. So, larger cities are suffering, but certainly not to the extent that the Village of Lake Orion has in one swift blow.”
Narsh added that during his career as a police officer he’s never seen so many police departments advertising for officers. “What doesn’t help is that there are a hundred other cities and municipalities advertising (for officers). I’ve never seen it in my 42-year career. I’ve never seen that many postings for staffing.”
The LOPD started in the late 1800s with a Constable on Patrol (COP). In November 1904, the LOPD became an official police department, Narsh said.
Stanfield has been acting police chief since former Chief Harold Rossman retired in May. Stanfield and village Manager Darwin McClary have been negotiating but have been unable to come to terms on a contract that would make Stanfield the official chief of police.
The Lake Orion Village Council’s next meeting is at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 11 in council chambers at Village Hall, 21 E. Church Street.