Snowy Day Stretches Thin Ingham Co. Sheriff's Dept. Even More

By: Alex Goldsmith Email
By: Alex Goldsmith Email

One stop tells the story about how budget cuts have made Deputy Scott Macomber's job much harder.

Macomber is the only patrol out Thursday night following a day of snowfall across the area. For his very first call of the night he arrives on the scene of a black Saturn sedan that's smashed it's front driver's side light into a tree.

But there are a few problems. The call he's taking has been waiting for more than 90 minutes. Because of that the car has already been moved by the tow truck driver, altering the scene of the crash. That earns the tow truck driver a lecture from Macomber. The bigger problem, however, is that the driver is nowhere to be found.

Although it's illegal for the driver to be gone, it's understandable. The driver was a woman who was 7 months pregnant and she'd been waiting a long time before she simply had to head home.

Understandable as it might be, it takes extra time out of a busy night for Macomber, who has to track her down to finish his report. The reality is that a story like this isn't uncommon for Ingham County deputies these days.

"People get sick of waiting," said Macomber. "It used to be only people evading police left the scene. Now it's normal people."

It didn't used to be this way. Before budget cuts hit over the last few years, Ingham Co. would have had 6 or more deputies out and about on a night like this one.

"We used to be a lot more proactive," said Lt. Vern Elliott. "Deputies could drive and help people who slid off before they could even call for help. Now we don't have that capability. We just don't have those cars anymore."

That means days when the roads are icy become that much trickier.

"Calls stack up on us," said Elliott. "We just go from one to the next. We go to any accident where someone's hurt first. That goes to the top of the queue."

But that queue can be fairly long when nearly 100 calls come in and only one deputy is patrolling at a time. Another issue that arises is if Macomber finds an intoxicated driver at the scene of one of these accidents, he gets pulled off the road for 2-3 hours in order to process the case. On a night like Thursday that equates to 2-3 hours without any patrols on the roads.

"It's hard to be productive when we're just waiting for calls to come in," said Macomber.

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  • by Anonymous on Jan 28, 2011 at 02:52 PM
    Good leaders find money in any manner that they can. They can ask for volunteer deputies or temporarily move officers to handle the peak time. That absolute worse thing that could happen is the top man actually do some grunt work himself. If there is a emergency that he needs to get back the office, he should trust his people to tell him to come in.
  • by Tim Location: Dansville on Jan 28, 2011 at 12:43 PM
    I'm really getting tired of hearing about Ingham County's money problems. Where are the county taxes that I pay going??? To fund the jail??? Yes, I voted not to fund the Sheriff's so called patrol's for rural county areas. But does that mean Gene has no deputies on the road anymore? If so, I want my taxes lowered! Like that'll ever happen...
  • by nick Location: okemos on Jan 28, 2011 at 10:16 AM
    Our wonderful state doesn't have enough money to pay for our safety, but by God we found the cash to pay for life partner benefits for same sex couples working for said wonderful state. Hhhhmmmm.
  • by Anonymous on Jan 28, 2011 at 07:09 AM
    If the sheriff knew how to run a tight department, he could find funding for a few officers. The no vote on the millage is the only thing they can say against him. No body has the clout or courage to go up against in an election.
  • by anon Location: holt on Jan 28, 2011 at 05:42 AM
    there is one sgt with 4 deputies on days and 3 sgts with 4 deputies on nights. there are not any extras on the day shift that gives one or 2 deps on per shift. they have to cover hospital guard, some transports, backfill courts, doctor appointments. it often leaves one or zero on the road. The sheriff hass been cut so thin there is nothing else he can do thanks commissioners for putting safety way after the zoo, parks (including a new sled hill) and everything else.
  • by kristine Location: LANSING on Jan 28, 2011 at 05:35 AM
    What Ingham co voters know is that Ingham Co has more administrative sherrif staff than the other surrounding counties and it is not needed. Put the Majors on patrol and it would solve their "budget crisis"
  • by nelson59 on Jan 28, 2011 at 04:18 AM
    have old gene wigelworthless put som of his day shift patrol on the night shift da!
  • by Anonymous on Jan 27, 2011 at 10:00 PM
    Nice work Ingham county voters
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