Small Communities Brace For Sheriff's Dept. Cuts 9-10-2010 - WNEM TV 5

Small Communities Brace For Sheriff's Dept. Cuts 9-10-2010

Public safety cuts are still looming after a committee of county commissioners voted to set aside the sheriff's plan to keep his deputies on patrol.
That plan involved making cuts to Saginaw County Jail staff, instead of cuts to the road patrol.
Now small communities that don't have their own police units are worried about what will happen if the deputies they rely on are pink-slipped.
"We depend a lot on the sheriff, we do not have a police department out here at all," said Taymouth Township Supervisor Doug Jones.
Jones' township, like 20 other townships in Saginaw County, does not have a police department and the community relies solely on the Saginaw County Sheriff Department for its law enforcement.
"Since I've been elected, I've noticed lots less sheriffs out here, they don't have the man power, they don't have the availability," said Jones.
But on Sept. 21, Saginaw County commissioners could ask Sheriff Bill Federspiel to cut $1.2 million from his budget, and that could result in the sheriff cutting 15 deputies from road patrol.
"It's disastrous for the public," said Federspiel. "We're already cut to the bone. We've lost 50 percent of our road patrol in the last 12 years. This decimates us; it reduces us to about an 83 percent reduction over the last 12 years."
But some county commissioners said they have to cut $6.6 million from the county's budget, and cuts have to be made somewhere. So TV5's Brian Wood asked the Tough Questions about public safety.
"The sheriff says if you guys make him cut $1.2 million from his budget that it's going to drastically affect public safety. What's your response?" asked Wood.
"Well, we still have still have a one-third mil levee that generates enough money to employ 14 deputies," said Saginaw County Commissioner Jim Graham.
But some township officials and some residents said they're nervous about law enforcement going away.
"It's going to be a lot worse," said Jones. "Without the sheriff patrolling out here and having protection, crime is going to escalate."
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