Benton Township

BENTON TOWNSHIP — Benton Township police are getting two surveillance cameras after its board of trustees approved funding for the new equipment.

At Tuesday’s board meeting, Police Chief Brian Smit requested funding to buy two Hyperfire outdoor surveillance cameras that together cost nearly $1,200.

The police department has had similar cameras over the past decade, which Smit said were used for investigative purposes. Smit described them as being “trail cameras,” only of a higher quality.

“We use them in some investigative purposes. We probably used these for over eight years,” he said. “With the wear and tear and shelf life they have, I thought it was time to replace them. I think the two here will be enough for us.”

One of the cameras has the technology to send images or short videos close to real time using cellular technology. The second camera takes still images, which can be reviewed at a later time.

Smit also requested two locks, costing a combined $40, for securing the devices when in use.

New positions

The township made two alterations to a couple positions that will benefit the police department.

Trustees agreed to change the ordinance enforcement officer position into a full-time position and brought back the court officer position that was previously discontinued more than a decade ago.

The ordinance enforcement officer was previously a part-time position that was changed to a full-time requirement based on Smit’s recommendation. The township has the largest commercial district in Berrien County, a good portion of it based along the M-139 corridor.

The two positions will work in coordination with several township departments, but primarily serve under the direction of the police chief.

The ordinance enforcement officer will respond to citizen complaints, prepare notices of violations, issue citations, maintain a file for each inspection and violation and prepare reports to the board and other departments.

The court officer is expected to transport police reports, warrant requests and citations, distribute paperwork to the courthouse, serve subpoenas to victims and witnesses, review paperwork at the courthouse as necessary and transport bond money to the court.

New sergeants

The police department received approval to hire two patrol sergeants.

Evan Smith and Tyler Tiefenbach were promoted after the township has had to use acting sergeants since January 2019, when the positions became available.

Five patrolmen took part in the promotional process, as all five were added to the sergeant promotional list. Smith and Tiefenbach were field training officers for the department.

Smit told trustees the department currently has two officer vacancies, but he expects that number to grow to four as at least two officers plan to retire this year.

The next board meeting is at 5:30 p.m. on July 21 at Benton Township Hall.

Contact: twittkowski@TheHP.com, 932-0358, Twitter: @TonyWittkowski