Putnam Township officials made a decision on their police protection contract that left one Pinckney Village official dismayed.

Village President Linda Lavey told Township Supervisor Dennis Brennan that she was disappointed and that he “screwed up” the process for choosing between the Livingston County Sheriff’s Department and the Pinckney Police Department for Putnam Township’s police contract. She pointed out that 2,400 township residents live in the village and accused him of ignoring them “all the time.” This came in the closing call to the public at the Board’s meeting Wednesday when they voted unanimously to renew their police contract with the Sheriff’s Department. Councilman Bob Vedder also voiced his displeasure in the decision. He claimed to have asked for chance to bid a year ago, and told the Board they blew “a chance to save $10,000 over 3 years to get one-third more coverage.”

Last month, the Board faced an agenda item for the renewal, but postponed it for a month at the request of Lavey so that Pinckney Police Department could make a bid. Brennan said it wasn’t originally put to bid because they believed the Sheriff’s Department has done a good job with a high level of quality and offered a lower price with their new contract. He said nobody on the board suggested it be put to bid, and so if it is a mistake as Lavey suggests, it’s the whole board’s mistake, though he still doesn’t believe it to be one. Brennan said that what the Sheriff’s Department offers is worth the higher cost. He said the Sheriff’s Department provides resources to cover the entire county. They have equipment, command staff, a detective bureau, forensics and other services the local department doesn’t have. He said he’s not “saying the Pinckney Police Department isn’t a true police department, it’s just a small village police department.”

Before he became Supervisor, Brennan said he was on the police protection committee, 4 to 5 years ago. After reviewing police logs and talking to the residents in the surrounding communities, they came to the conclusion that the people were satisfied with their police coverage, which was the Sheriff’s Department at the time. Brennan said so that when the Board got into this contract, he looked at the same things. He asked "How do people feel about the Sheriff’s Department? Are they doing a good job?" He summarized, saying that he that when you have a contractor, especially at that level of quality, and they are doing a good job and offer you a lower price, he believes there is no reason to put it out to bid year after year or contract after contract.

The Sheriff’s Department’s proposal was for 40 hours of service per week, plus the entirety of their added resources, for just over $98,530 the first year. This is 5.67% lower than the current year. The price will raise 3.5% each of the next two, meaning the second year will still be less expensive than this year. The Pinckney Police Department countered with 56 hours a week for $95,500. Their price would raise 3% each of the next two years. They also offered a second option for 24/7 service starting at around $134,000 per year. Pinckney Chief Jeff Newton said he thought this would help unify the township and village, as they get calls routinely from people not in the Village who think they are part of it.

Brennan said he heard from only 2 residents weighing on in the decision over the past month. One was in favor of the Sheriff, the other in favor of the local department. Trustee Bob Press said he had heard from people that they prefer the Sheriff’s Department. That the Pinckney Department knew the Sheriff’s proposal going in had an effect, leaving many Board members feeling uneasy about the ethics. Trustee Norm Klein suggested in the future they just automatically put it out for bid. The new 3-year contract with the Sheriff’s Department begins on July 1st. (MK)