OAKLAND COUNTY — Citing numerous instances in which money has been saved without a corresponding lowering of performance standards, the Detroit News in a June 30 editorial advocated intergovernmental contracting out of police services — particularly dispatch services — as a cost-saving measure.
The News cited the example of tiny Pleasant Ridge (population 2,600) in Oakland County, which is saving an estimated $35,000 per year by having the nearby town of Berkley provide its emergency dispatch services. Not only does Pleasant Ridge expect to maintain the same level of service for less money, but by taking over the city’s business, “Berkley expects to net thousands of dollars … even after it buys a new radio transmitter with greater broadcasting power and installs more phone lines,” according to the News editorial.
The News cites the city of Southfield, which replaced higher-paid police dispatchers with civilians without suffering a drop in service, and the Macomb County Sheriff’s Department, which did the same thing. It also says the community of Clawson, between Troy and Madison Heights, is looking at having its police officers become Oakland County sheriff’s deputies, joining the other 14 Oakland communities that currently have deputies handle their police services. While the officers would still be paid by Clawson, the community would save the money needed to supply vehicles, insurance, equipment, gasoline and other costs. Clawson’s police union is opposing the move, which is headed for arbitration.