Saginaw police, fire departments battle with staffing issues


A local city has new concerns about staffing its police force and fire department.

In the city of Saginaw there's a big staffing and money problem that is now causing both departments to try to do more with less.

The Saginaw police and fire departments are facing similar issues - concerns about working bodies.

The police force is battling a staffing problem and the fire department hopes to fight off problems headed their way.

"Some of the individuals in the city just don't call the police anymore because they know we're not going to come out for certain things. We just don't have the resources to send the people out," Saginaw Police Chief Bob Ruth said.

Ruth said thanks to help from the Michigan State Police, the situation in the city is in decent shape. However, he said staffing levels are a huge challenge. So much so that sometimes there is only one officer on the clock between the daily shift change.

Ruth said that lasts for up to an hour, but without the MSP it could be a sight you would see more often.

"I don't even want to think about it. It wouldn't be good. It wouldn't be good," Ruth said.

He said his department has been making serious staffing cuts since 2013, including eliminating the city's gang task force.

The fire department may soon see similar cuts if a federal grant, known as the SAFER grant, is not renewed. The $2.5 million grant funds 13 firefighters. Without it, those firefighters will be out of a job come Sept. 30.

Fire Chief Chris Van Loo said if that happens they will be forced to close one of the city's four fire stations and work with less staff.

"If we get the SAFER grant we'll be able to retain all of them. It's a grant for 13, so the idea is to keep what we already have," Van Loo said.

Whether it's staffing police or fire, Ruth said it is time to get creative.

"You have to get creative. You've gotta think outside the box if we're going to make it happen," Ruth said.

Both departments said all options are on the table at this point, including reducing staffers to part time or even consolidating with neighboring departments.

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