Allegan County News & Union Enterprise News

Fennville disbands local police force, contracts with county

Dedicated police coverage will return to Fennville City in July, more than six months after the police chief resigned and after two candidates for the chief role backed out at the last minute.
The city commission on Monday, June 5, voted unanimously to contract for one fulltime officer from the Allegan County Sheriff’s Office, bringing to an end the 10 years of an independently run city police department.
Also on Monday, the commission delayed approving a contract with Fennville Public Schools for a resource officer who would also assist the city during the summer and school break times. More details are needed on issues including grant administration and billing, but the city expects to approve that deal when it is finalized.
The contract
The county officer dedicated to Fennville coverage will cost $96,210.12 a year.
“This is significantly less than our current approved police budget,” said City Administrator Kathryn Beemer in a memo to the commission.
The current budget has $131,440 for one police chief and part-time officers as needed. The proposed fiscal year budget for 2023-2024 is $190,732, though that number was developed when the city was looking at two fulltime officers for a city-run department.
There are savings in insurance by going through the county.
“The county will also buy the cars from the city, of which the value is still being determined,” she added.
Fennville has two police cruisers – a 2014 Dodge Charger and a 2020 Ford Explorer.
The new officer is expected to start July 1. The city personnel committee is meeting next week to interview two candidates from the sheriff’s department who are interested in the position.
The officer will patrol in the city limits during the hours agreed to by the city and county, however, if the officer is needed outside the city for emergencies, he or she will respond and leave the city. This was also the procedure when the city had its own department, with the chief often helping in other communities.
School resource officer
The city and school district are partnering for an additional fulltime officer for the school.
The school district received a state grant earlier this year for the resource officer. That grant will pay $50,826.83. The school and city will split the remaining cost — The school pays $26,216.07, and the city covers $17,477.38, according to city documents.

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