Traverse City Record-Eagle

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March 27, 2013

Benzie County sheriff garners public support on plea for more deputies

BEULAH — Benzie County Sheriff Ted Schendel said he’s pleased his request of five additional road patrol deputies from the county Board of Commissioners garnered public support.

No one spoke against the proposal in public comments during the county board’s Tuesday meeting. Commissioners “kept pretty quiet,” he said.

Benzie County business owner Art Jeannot spoke in favor of an increased presence of deputies in the county; more deputies would benefit locals and tourists, he said.

“From a tourism perspective … people who come here expect to feel safe,” Jeannot said.

The board tabled the discussion pending an audit report. Schendel expects commissioners to revisit the topic in a few weeks.

”And if they don’t, I’m going to make sure they revisit it,” he said.

Boosting road patrol staff by five deputies would bring the department to minimum staffing and allow for two people to be on at all times, seven days a week, Schendel said. Currently, deputies work a portion of the day shift alone, and no one is staffed from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m.

“When you’re one person on, you’re just going from call-to-call. There’s no proactive police work going on,” Schendel said. “I don’t want us to be in a situation where something tragic happens and we all have egg on our face saying, ‘How did this happen?’”

Under Schendel’s recommendation, more deputies would allow for extra school security during the winter, and a general assignment deputy would join the detective bureau during busier summer months. County officials estimated five additional deputies would cost taxpayers just under $300,000.

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