Busiest Bar Night Sees Only Three Ingham County Sheriff's Deputies

By: Sherene Tagharobi Email
By: Sherene Tagharobi Email

Thanksgiving Eve -- it's the busiest bar night of the year.

"You may not be able to get in," said Lanny Preston, owner of Preston's Bar in Grand Ledge.

It's a night you'd hope police would be out looking for drunk drivers. But this year...

"We're not going to be looking for anything. We don't have time to look for anything," said Lt. Vern Elliot of the Ingham County Sheriff's Office.

That's because budget cuts have left them with only three deputies on the road when in years past they've had eight or nine.

"We can no longer be proactive and look for drunk drivers, people breaking the law," he said.

"With three people patrolling the entire county, you really have to prioritize the types of calls we go to and whether or not to make traffic stops," said Deputy Scott Macomber.

It's a dilemma that puts Macomber in a tight spot. If he arrests a drunk driver, that's hours of paperwork he has to do and time he won't be available to respond to calls or help fellow officers in an emergency.

"You could be tied up for two, three hours," he said. "That's two to three hours you're not able to back up other officers or take calls."

Taking calls is challenging enough as it is.

"It's way shortstaffed," Macomber said. "It takes us 35 to 40 minutes to respond to calls."

Some bars like Preston's in Grand Ledge are trying to make sure there are fewer drunk drivers for police to worry about.

"We try not to over-serve people, and we give them rides and we have a large staff tonight, probably 15 employees," said Preston, the owner.

Deputy Macomber says that's something police appreciate. He says he hopes people will be smart enough not to drink and drive.

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  • by Anonymous on Nov 29, 2010 at 07:58 AM
    It is all a ploy by the sheriff to get more funding. He can change some of the patrol nights to have less on the quieter days and more on that night. He just wants to have a bigger piece of the pie.
  • by John Location: Lansing on Nov 26, 2010 at 05:05 AM
    I thought Kelly hated gov't and taxes and was contantly railing on State employees. The fact is, county residents pay taxes and should have basic police service.
  • by Mike Location: Okemos on Nov 25, 2010 at 10:04 PM
    @Dave: Your logic is a bit twisted. If drunk people should be arrested for something they only might do, then you should be in jail for what you say you might do. There is the problem, we should not be jailing people for crimes not yet committed. By victim-less crime, I mean a vast majority of arrested drunk drivers have done harm to no one, nor any thing. You drive drunk and cause harm, make the penalty steep, if no harm is done, just take their keys and call them a cab. If we can make a law that stops us from suing drug companies, we can pass a law giving the police the legal protection/authority to do this.
  • by dave Location: williamston on Nov 25, 2010 at 04:07 PM
    Right on Kelly! can"t say it better than that! To. tony, Are you admitting driving home drunk? and think it's funny (Punk, see you in jail! or the funeral home soon!)To. Mike- What do you mean (usually victim-less crime!!) It only takes one time to drive drunk and kill( Murder) someone or a family Maybe yours, hope you can live with yourself if you do it! If my family gets killed by a drunk, i'll do the the reverse of what i'm saying here, for the first time in my life,, hope there's no cops ,and the drunk lives through the crash, he or she wount leave the hosp.!! justis for all!!
  • by mike Location: lansing on Nov 25, 2010 at 03:38 PM
    So the millage did'nt go through,Big deal take classes get a cpl,(ccw)Ilive in lansing cops can,nt always be their when you need them.Ok i know what you are going to say about drunk drivers,Even if you had 100 cops they can'nt be every where at once.
  • by Tom Location: Stockbridge on Nov 25, 2010 at 02:59 PM
    Kelly u r a fool. Where does the tax hikes stop? If u got the money then u can pay for it and cover the rest of the brainless people in this county that voted no. Or better yet just move to a different county.
  • by Brandon Location: Williamston on Nov 25, 2010 at 07:42 AM
    I agree that 3 Deputies for the entire area of Ingham Co. is indeed too few. I believe, in this time of economis hardship, that it is time to redifine the role of the Co. Sherrif's Dept. The vast majority of bars are not located in rural areas outside the jurisdiction of Local Police Depts. Let local communities handle such issues within their boundaries. The Sheriff's Dept. should be focused on Ingham County's rural areas and communites that have contracted their services in place of their own dept. Like any business or service, the Sheriff's Dept. needs to learn how to budget the resources they have more efficiently, instead of continuing to complain about lack of funding. Most citizens are also having a problem with "lack of funding". It would be nice to see the emphasis put on re-evaluating priorities rather than scare tactics aimed at getting more money from an already cash strapped population.
  • by Tim Location: Dansville on Nov 25, 2010 at 07:02 AM
    Kelly: "Brainless"??? I see by your location that you live in Lansing. So how does this affect you??? Also, the millage increase was NOT going to take affect until 1/1/11. So, this is truely a lack of preperation on Gene's part. Before you begin to question the actions of the ones that it would affect, think! The three deputies on the road is a stretch. It's usualy one. And he/she is more than likely at a hospital baby sitting a Lansing resident.
  • by CW Location: Mason on Nov 25, 2010 at 06:42 AM
    I totally supported the rural law enforcement millage however the blame for our lack of deputies on the road lies solely with our County Board of Commissioners. They are the fools that cut the budget leaving us unprotected. I am still trying to find out what I get for the 6.2 mils I currently pay the County. I prefer to feel safe & know that the deputies on the road are safe as well but apparently that is not important to our "leaders"!
  • by Tony Location: Jackson on Nov 25, 2010 at 12:40 AM
    That's funny. I guess the patrons win this time! I know I didn't get caught driving home tonight. Boo Yah!
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