City still wants sheriff's deputies to patrol streets
By Andrew Keller, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -
A plan to keep streets safe in one Mid-Michigan city isn't getting the reception it expected.
The city of Saginaw approached the county with a plan to have sheriff's deputies patrol city streets. A similar plan was presented by the sheriff months ago, but he backed out after backlash from the community.
"We all are striving for one thing, and that's for a safe city," said Roy Robinson, a Saginaw resident.
Robinson said he's concerned about crime in the city. Wednesday, we learned that fighting that crime is even more of a challenge due to a $3.5 million budget deficit.
Phil Ludos, Saginaw's assistant city manager, went to the county in hopes of getting the sheriff to take over city police operations.
"We have to look at how far can we sustain this operation," said Ludos.
Ludos said he believes the city can afford to pay for 80 officers to work Saginaw streets. That's down from the 108 officers suggested in a proposal made by Saginaw County Sheriff Bill Federspiel earlier this year.
You'll remember, Federspiel bailed out on the talks after community backlash and complaints from city leaders that his plan cost too much.
"They've asked me to provide more information to Mr. Ludos, I'll provide them with any information that they need, and even if all 15 commissioners voted next month that I should look at this, I still may say no," said Federspiel.
Federspiel said he will only agree to take over city patrols if the city, county and the community are all on board.
That has yet to happen. County Commissioner Pat Wurtzel said Wednesday night it's far from happening at this point.
"For him, Mr. Ludos to come in today, and ask us to send it the board, without one sheet in front of us, with just a little background information, it's not going to happen," said Wurtzel.
But Ludos said the city is in a crisis situation and if something doesn't happen soon, there will have to be drastic cuts.
Two City Council members said after the meeting they felt blindsided.
They were surprised by the fact that Ludos' proposal had 28 fewer officers than the sheriff said he needed to patrol the city. They also said they were never told about the possibility of nearly cutting the police force in half if a deal isn't struck.
The county has not made any decision yet and is asking Ludos for more information about the plan.
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