Budget cuts and a limited number of Livingston County Sheriff’s deputies have led to discussion on alternative options for local communities wanting additional police protection.

The Sheriff Department’s budget for road patrol has seen significant cuts in the last 10 to 15 years and the trend is expected to continue. The Sheriff’s Department and Michigan State Police both provide police protection to residents, with the Sheriff’s Department responding to approximately 93% of calls in Hartland Township and MSP responding to about 7%. The number of law enforcement officers per capita and per square mile is low in relation to other communities similar to Hartland, which equates to a minimal level of service provided.

One option to increase the level of service would be to contract the Sheriff’s Department to provide additional road patrol, as MSP does not contract for dedicated road patrol. Livingston County Sheriff Mike Murphy says the department has met with a number of communities over the last few years to discuss that option, should the community and its residents initiate it.

While the county statute requires the Sheriff’s Department to monitor and respond to crime in an unincorporated area, it does not detail to what degree. That means the degree of services provided relies on what’s available in the budget. Murphy declined to say just what that number was, but did agree that the budget is pretty tight. Murphy says the county’s Board of Commissioners has already established the funding and number of deputies they’re committed to, with no inclination to sway from that anytime soon.

Murphy and Undersheriff Jeff Warder met with Hartland Township’s Board of Trustees last week to keep the discussion open and hear officials’ thoughts. While the board is not expected to pursue a contract or other options for additional services at this time, it was noted that it’s a conversation that may happen sooner or later. (DK)