MARQUETTE - With the number of police officers reportedly down 16 percent in the state of Michigan since 2001, Marquette County appears to be one of few counties in the state holding steady.
Citing the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards, the Detroit News reported today Michigan had nearly 19,000 police officers at the end of October, compared to more than 22,000 in 2001 when the economy was stronger.
The newspaper said a lack of local tax revenues was often forcing local police agencies to shut their doors, transferring policing responsibilities to county agencies, such as Sheriff's Departments.
Law enforcement agencies in Marquette County appear to be bucking a statewide trend by retaining police officers while many other juristictions have reduced the number of officers in recent years. (Journal file photo)
"It does have ramifications, serious ones," said MCOLES Executive Director David Harvey. "Especially when we're talking about things like security for schools."
According to Harvey, Marquette County currently has 83 police officers employed within its boundaries, not counting Michigan State Police Troopers. Harvey said from 2003 to 2011, the county only saw a loss of two officers.
A former police chief in downstate Garden City, Harvey said dwindling funds mean fewer and fewer specialty units are available to local police stations.
"What we lose are things like school security, departments to keep officers on the road have had to reduce," Harvey said. "In Garden City, where I was police chief, to keep officers on the road, we cut all our specialty units, which, in many districts, include school resources programs. What else gets cut is all other units such as surveillance units and drug units. It's one thing to have a patrol officer responding to a crime in town, but there has to be somebody, detectives, a specialty unit, to follow up."
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.