By Mike Kruzman & Jon King /

A transfer of property from the Livingston County Road Commission to the Sheriff’s Office may eventually yield a dedicated training site for deputies.

Sheriff Mike Murphy told the Livingston County Public Safety and Infrastructure and Development Committee on Monday that one of the things the Office has been looking for in his time there has been a property that could be utilized for a variety of purposes, including K9, drone, and search and rescue training as well as a gun range. In 2018, Lt. Mike Nast went into conversations with the Road Commission over 50 acres of property near Faussett and McGuire roads in Deerfield Township. Not wanting to run into public outcry, Murphy said they went and talked to neighbors about it and the biggest issues were with people realizing they may lose trails and hunting property that they were technically trespassing on.

Deerfield Township Supervisor Alfred Mattioli responded to Monday's meeting with a statement pointing out that there has been no application for a Special Land Use permit for the land, which would require a public hearing. Mattioli says he has received "many phone calls and emails in opposition to this project" in the last few years, with the biggest complaint being noise and stray bullets. He says if an application is received by the township, they will notify Deerfield residents and those in neighboring townships. He also reiterated that the project "can not move forward without the approval of the Deerfield Township Board of Trustees." While the proposed gun range would require a Special Land Use permit, the other training functions would not necessarily need it.

In September of 2019 the Board of Commissioners authorized negotiations to move forward, with Murphy updating the committee on Monday on the exchange. The Sheriff said it really is a barter where they will provide work for the Road Commission in exchange for the land. The Sheriff’s Office will pay for the environmental study – between $3,000 and $5,000, and then give 1,000 hours of dedicated deputy’s time over the next 3-4 years. They will also write a check for a dollar to satisfy the purchase price.

Murphy said they provide enforcement patrols on frost law violations and similar issues from time to time anyway, but now there will be dedicated time spent to fulfill those obligations. He added that while this could potentially affect non-emergency response time, this will have no impact on response time for emergency calls. If an emergency occurs and a deputy is on Road Commission duty, they would be pulled to assist with the emergency. Murphy said they have flexibility in their budget and manpower to do this and called the deal a “no-brainer."

Commissioner Carol Sue Reader, who represents Deerfield Township, said she thinks this is a great project and she is happy to support it.

Other commissioners on the committee were in support and the resolution will now go to the county Finance Committee and full board for consideration.