Sheriff's Department discusses proposed police millage with Augusta Township residents
Two deputies dedicated to Augusta Township would reduce response time and help the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department prevent crime from occurring.
That’s the message Sheriff Jerry Clayton delivered Wednesday to a small audience of Augusta Township residents during an informational meeting about a proposed millage to fund two deputies for the township.
Voters there rejected three proposals to renew the township’s previous contract with the Sheriff’s Department, most recently in November 2010.
That has left the township without police coverage for the last two years and resulted in slow responses to calls for service. The Sheriff’s Department and Michigan State Police have both responded to emergency calls, though there are no deputies or troopers dedicated to the township.
Residents will be asked to consider a 1.7 mill tax to be levied from 2012 to 2015. It would generate approximately $326,000 in the first year and provide for two full-time deputies dedicated to Augusta.
Tom Perkins | For AnnArbor.com
Clayton broke down what Augusta Township would receive and what the current policing arrangement is like there.
About half the calls for service in Augusta Township, which has around 6,700 residents, are routed to the Michigan State Police’s Brighton post.
The Sheriff’s Department has 12 countywide deputies who are cover the township’s 345,000 residents, though not at one time. It's those deputies who respond to Augusta if they are available.
Clayton offered some statistics that show how much longer response times to calls for help are when there are no dedicated deputies. Bridgewater Township currently has dedicated deputies, and Manchester Township does not.
Sheriff Department’s response to priority calls in Manchester Township took 100 percent longer than in Bridgewater Township. All calls in general took around 280 percent longer to receive a response in Manchester than in Bridgewater.
In Freedom Township, which has no dedicated deputies, shots fired calls took 29 percent longer to receive a response while responses to car accidents with injuries took 232 percent longing.
Last year, there were 1,500 calls for service in Augusta Township. According to Sheriff’s Department Lt. Jim Anuszkiewicz, the top calls are for malicious destruction of property, family troubles, suspicious circumstances, home invasions and a large amount of animal control complaints.
But Clayton stressed that having a police presence helps prevent crime from occurring, which is more important than response times.
"I’d rather be the best at preventing your house from getting broken into,” Clayton said. “We’re good at (responding quickly), but I want us to be great at preventing crime, and that only occurs when you have a presence.”
Several residents questioned why they weren't made aware of the millage by the township board of trustees.
Township Supervisor Pete Hafler said it might be possible for him to call a special meeting so the Board of Trustees can put together information for residents. But he said he didn't know if other board members would show up.
Augusta Township Fire Chief Vic Chevrette highlighted another obstacle to passing the millage. He said residents in Augusta Township have mailing addresses for Van Buren Township, Belleville, Ypsilanti Township and other municipalities, so they don’t understand that they are actually Augusta residents and receive public safety services from Augusta.
“There area lot of people who don’t understand that Augusta is 36 square miles and Augusta Township is the one who services them,” Chevrette said.
Samantha Towler is an Augusta Township resident who has been campaigning for the proposal. She also said she believes the board needs to work to spread information on the millage.
“I think this approval will pass, but I think it's up to the people in here,” Towler said, referring to township officials gathered at the meeting.