2015-12-17 / News

Police authority board addresses details of merger

BY LANIA ROCHA
810-452-2652 • lrocha@mihomepaper.com

SWARTZ CREEK and MUNDY TOWNSHIP – The new police authority board has begun building the foundation for the proposed merger of the Swartz Creek and Mundy Township police departments.

At the inaugural meeting Wednesday, Dec. 9, city Councilman Curt Porath was elected to chair the Regional Police Authority of Genesee County board. Township Trustee Kay Doerr was named vice chair.

“This is a great opportunity for both communities,” said Porath. “This is a great group and I think we’ll work well together.”

Other members include Swartz Creek Mayor David Krueger, city Councilman Dennis Pinkston, township Clerk Tonya Ketzler and township Treasurer Joe Oskey.

The board will negotiate with police unions, create policy, set a budget and tend to other details, functioning autonomously from the city and town- ship.

At this time, neither municipality is obligated to follow through with the merger.

According to police Chief Dan Atkinson, on Dec. 17, officers will vote on which union – the Police Officers Association of Michigan, Police Officers Labor Council or Michigan Association of Police – will represent them.

Negotiations with union leaders are expected to begin soon after the first of the year, Atkinson said.

The chief also reported that policies and procedures have been written and the authority has received some grant money to help offset start-up costs.

The committee wrapped up the meeting with a tour of a building that township officials are eyeing as a possible headquarters for a regional police agency.

Atkinson said both the city and township police offices are in disrepair.

While the Swartz Creek station would remain as a satellite office, the 14,758-square-foot office building on a central office, with room to expand if other communities join the regional police force.

At least eight other Genesee County communities have expressed some sort of interest, Atkinson said.

The building, listed at $898,000, could be retrofitted to contain a large training room, ample property and records rooms, holding cells, a garage and more.

Not everyone is excited about the idea of investing in a headquarters building.

“Maybe we (should) live with what we have for a while, even if it’s not ideal, in case changes come along,” said City Manager Adam Zettel. “I think we should wait on the building and see how big our family gets.” Porath suggested the township purchase and remodel the facility, which could then be leased to the police authority.

Atkinson said township officials are “mindful” of the city’s concerns regarding the building.

The next authority board meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 27, in Swartz Creek. It is open to the public.

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