Officer's wife speaks out about Flushing Twp. police situation
By Andrew Keller, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
FLUSHING TOWNSHIP, MI (WNEM) -
The last year has been tough for Ashley Owens and her husband Andrew. Andrew Owens and two of his co-workers were laid off from Flushing Township's Police Department. But in January, they learned they're getting their jobs back. Some may call it a win, but Ashley Owens says not so fast.
"I think that people need to hear our story. They need to understand how much hurt has been done because of this, how much families have suffered," Ashley Owens said.
Andrew Owens said he was advised by his lawyer to not speak to TV5 because he is still in the middle of court proceedings. Ashley Owens spoke for him, though. She said she wanted to share the story because of the headache the last year has caused. Andrew Owens had 15 years of seniority stripped when he lost his job.
"He loses his seniority, he loses his job, we start over for retirement, and it's completely like you're out of college and you're walking into a police department. It's like he's starting over again at 40 years old," Ashley Owens said.
And he did. He became a deputy with the Genesee County Sheriff's Department, making half the pay and losing his benefits. Then in January, an arbitrator ruled the township broke labor contracts when they terminated Andrew Owens and the officers.
"It was like finally somebody's able to hear what we've been trying to say, that this is not right," Ashley Owens said.
The ruling forced the township to rehire the officers. This, of course, is easier said than done.
The Flushing Township board is somewhat in a pickle. They have to figure out how to change the sheriff substation back to their police department, but this has some obstacles. They sold all of their equipment last year when they pulled the plug. At a special township meeting Monday night, board members met behind closed doors to discuss a plan. They voted to not appeal the arbitrator's decision.
"Things will be happening pretty quickly from this point," Township Attorney Steven Moulton said after Monday's meeting.
That's about all that is known about their plan. Ashley Owens said her family is in the dark as well.
"At this point, it is frustrating. We've heard hold tight, it's coming, but it seems like we've held tight for a long time," she said.
While they wait for the township's decision, Ashley Owens said she fully supports the Genesee County Sheriff patrolling the streets. Flushing Township contracted its services when they disbanded their own department. Ashley Owens said without the sheriff offering her husband a job and helping their family, things could have been a lot worse.
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