Fewer Deputies Dangerous for Residents and Officers

By: Rachel Thomas Email
By: Rachel Thomas Email

Calling 911 is not what is used to be. Twelve townships in Ingham County are now getting anything but immediate emergency response because of lack of funding.

"If I was hurt in this accident, and I had to wait a half hour for a cop to get here that's dangerous," said Cody Monroe, a resident of Ingham Township.

"We are going to have to go to calls based on priority of them. So some calls hold for several hours before they can be answered," said Deputy Jacob Newton.

Minor calls won't be responded to at all. The Ingham County Sheriff's Department is now down to eight deputies and four commanders.
In the past two days, the sheriff's department has had one to two patrols for 12 townships, an area of roughly 450 square miles. Those are good days, as the sheriff expects some days they'll have none.

"If you factor in sick time, and the fact that we have to guard inmates in the hospital and transport prisoners, there are days we have no deputies available," said Sheriff Gene Wriggelsworth of Ingham County.

Of the 13 townships, only one, Williamstown, passed a millage to fund law enforcement. Some residents in the dozen other townships are now thinking voters mad a mistake.

"I'm hoping they put it back on the ballot and people vote for it because we need the protection," said Joyce Salyer, a resident of Ingham Township.

Fewer deputies can also make situations more dangerous for officers needing backup. Those deputies are instructed to wait as long as it takes.

"You've go to make safety first. Our officers bleed when they get shot like everyone else," said Sheriff Wriggelsworth.

County officers and residents agree the situation will get worse before it gets better. The sheriff's office has laid off five deputies since November. It also cut clerical staff and reduced the county jail by 64 beds.

The sheriff's office currently gets its funding from property taxes pooled into the county budget. Those taxes have been slowly declining over the last several years.

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