STEVENSVILLE —Lincoln Township is seeing immediate results a year after adding an officer to its police force.
Lincoln trustees met for a special budget meeting Tuesday night, where a public hearing was held for the proposed 2019-20 budget. Clerk Stacy Loar-Porter gave a brief presentation on the budget and spent time discussing how the addition of the police position has helped the department.
“They stayed within budget and went a whole year with a new officer,” Loar-Porter said. “They’ve been able to write more tickets and there was less overtime.”
Last year, trustees added an officer into its budget after Police Chief Gary Soper urged the board to give his department re-enforcements.
The board agreed to a bump in police expenses last year as the new position was created to be hourly – while pay was determined by union wages. The new position included a $50,000 salary – a figure that includes benefits.
Soper said the extra officer was needed to accommodate a growing population within the township.
“It’s allowed us to station three officers, and occasionally four, on the heavily trafficked days,” Soper said. “Those days are usually Friday and Saturday nights. But it depends on the weather.”
Soper said the additional officer was warranted as the township has seven schools to look after – five public and two private schools – along with traffic that’s drawn to Lake Michigan, I-94 and the Red Arrow Highway business corridor.
Soper said the national average for cops-to-residential population ratio is 2.5 officers for every 1,000 residents. Prior to adding the extra officer in 2018, Soper said the ratio in Lincoln Township was 0.7 officers for every 1,000. The township’s ratio has since increased to 0.9.
“It has made our shifts easier to work with,” Soper said. “It makes our training easier too. We’ve doubled the amount of training this year because that officer has allowed us to enter into more specialty training programs for certain investigations.”
The department has been able to handle the 46 special events within the township and village of Stevensville that requires a police presence.
The township now has 12 officers, including Soper. The township also has six reserve officers, which Soper said adds a big boost for special events.
The last time the township added an officer position was in 1995. Ironically, that officer was Soper. Two years ago, trustees also agreed to create a full-time fire chief position.
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