Eaton County rejects proposed $10,000 bonuses for deputies

Eaton County rejects deputy bonuses
Published: Aug. 12, 2022 at 6:40 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, Mich. (WILX) - It was not the result Eaton County Sheriff Reich wanted for his deputies. Friday, the sheriff’s request to the county for $10,000 bonuses to help recruit and retain deputies was denied.

The bonuses, which would’ve come from the federal government’s “American Rescue Plan,” were proposed by Sheriff Reich to help with retention.

In 2022 alone the department lost 12 deputies, most leaving for departments that pay more.

Background: Eaton County Sheriff’s Office sees staff shortages due to low pay

“I’m very… disappointed,” Sheriff Reich said. “I think it’s a kick in the butt to the residents of this county, knowing that their law enforcement services could be shortened by not having the service provided to them. So, it’s rough.”

Sheriff Reich says he believes the $10,000 bonuses would have immediate effect, but Committee Member Brian Droscha says they want to address retention through union contract negotiations.

Dorscha said he believes more favorable contracts, which establish the regular pay and benefits for sheriff’s deputies, are the best way to move forward. So, the matter goes again to the County Board of Commissioners, who will consider whether they will open negotiations with the union representing Eaton County Sheriff’s Deputies.

“If that happens great,” Reich said. “I don’t think it’s going to stop the people from moving to other jobs but at least it’s something, at least it’s something.”

Lariza Hansbarger is married to an Eaton County Deputy. She was present for the decision on Friday and addressed her comments to the County Board of Commissioners.

“My question to this entire body: Is your end game to completely have Eaton County have no law enforcement on the road? Are you trying to get rid of the road patrol?” Hansbarger said. “You are well on your way. Because, at this point, it’s very hard to come back.”

Reich said his department is stretched so thin he’s afraid they’ll have to make serious cuts, jeopardizing public safety.

Sheriff Reich said, “My biggest fear for not having road patrol is that somebody in the county who desperately needs help… and there’s nobody there to come and help. That’s my biggest fear.”

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