Village Council votes to extend contract with Orion Twp. for police services

Extension good for 60 days; to cost $45,000 per month

By Megan Kelley
Staff Writer
LAKE ORION — The Lake Orion Village Council approved extending its current contract with Orion Township for law enforcement services for another 60 days. The previous contract was set to expire March 3.
The request from Lake Orion Police Chief Todd Stanfield was approved 6-0 during the council’s meeting on Monday. President Pro Tem Teresa Rutt was absent from the meeting.
The patrol services will come from the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office to allow for additional time for the Lake Orion Police Department to get their staffing levels back to the necessary level.
Additionally, village Manager Darwin McClary is expected to bring forward an updated budget that reflects the cost of these services, which is about $45,000 per month, said McClary, who estimates that the extension OCSO services will cost the village about $90,000.
Contracting village police services with the sheriff’s office became necessary after three officers resigned from the Lake Orion Police Department to go to other departments. The village council voted to enter into a contract with Orion Township to provide police coverage for the village at a special meeting on Dec. 3.
Councilmember Michael Lamb made the requested motion to extend the contract but added that he would like to have McClary request an estimate from the sheriff’s office on what it would cost for a full-time police force to take over the village.
Councilmember Nancy Moshier seconded the motion, stating that she feared this could become an ongoing issue.
“I do like the local police. I know that it’s for sure for me. However, this is going on and on and on and now we’re authorizing another 60-day extension,” Moshier said. “Chief Stanfield has done a wonderful job, nothing against him. These people come and these people go. They want the job; they don’t want the job. So, my concern is the amount of money that we’re paying, it’s just being extended, extended, extended. I think there has to be reality at some point and we need to look at something different.”
With the issue of ongoing costs being brought up, McClary clarified that the village has money for this extension, but if another extension was necessary it would be more difficult to find the funding.
“Right now, we anticipate we have funding through the salaries line item to cover this cost. If we go beyond this next 60 days then we’re going to have to have some more serious conversations as to where the funding’s going to come from if we have to extend it further,” McClary said.
Councilmembers Carl Cyrowski and Stan Ford agreed that it was worth looking into what contracting full-time services with the sheriff’s office would cost but did not want to vote on it in the same motion as extending the contract.
However, council President Jerry Narsh, who currently serves as Police Chief in Holly and was previously the Lake Orion police chief, spoke against the second part of Lamb’s motion, raising concerns that it would deter people from applying if they felt their job could be stripped from them at any moment and handed over to the sheriff’s office.
“The police department has long been one of the solid services that this community has. Chief Stanfield is doing a phenomenal job of locating high-quality people to put us back where we need to be. One of the issues with the timing of that request is that it demoralizes anyone who would want to apply here. Though it’s a fair and valid question, but the time is just – I know how the business works and that will spread like wildfire. People will talk about that and it certainly will affect anyone who would want to work here, that ‘Why would I want to come here if I know that I’m not going to build a career? They’re going to pull the rug out from under me.’ And it’s going to make his job of finding those officers extremely difficult,” Narsh said.
Narsh also noted that, from what he had been told, the LOPD is already nearing full staff after hiring two full-time officers and offering a tentative position to someone who has accepted.
“We’re almost back to be able to modify the agreement within 60 days to less patrol services,” Narsh said. “The officers that are on, two of them are experienced and are, what I would estimate, a 30-day train. So, within 30 days, those officers would be covering two of those shifts and we can begin to scale back.”
Council voted 2-4 against Lamb’s motion with Lamb and Moshier casting the two yes votes. Once that motion was defeated, Councilmember Ken Van Portfliet made the motion to authorize the village manager to request an extension of services from Orion Township for 60 days, until May 3. Council voted 6-0 in favor of the motion.
Council did not take up another motion to request information on cost for the sheriff’s office to take over policing of the village in a permanent capacity.
Additionally, council voted 6-0 to send police recruits to the MCOLES Public Safety Academy Assistance Grant Program at village expense, or through grant funding. The motion also included a line that each new recruit execute the Employed Recruit Tuition Repayment Agreement provided there is no legal impediment to the agreement.

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