Traverse City Record-Eagle

December 18, 2012

Report: Fewer cops on beat


---- — DETROIT (AP) — The number of police officers in Michigan is down 16 percent since 2001 as local governments with falling tax revenue trim departments or rely on other agencies to patrol the streets, a newspaper reported Monday.

Some communities are refusing to raise property taxes and are turning law enforcement over to the county sheriff's office or state police. Benton Harbor in southwestern Michigan may close its department to save millions.

Even if residents vote to tax themselves for police services, "it's pretty rare to find a community not impacted in some way," said David Harvey, director of the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards, which sets statewide standards for law enforcement.

Michigan had nearly 19,000 police officers at the end of October, compared to more than 22,000 in 2001 when the economy was stronger, The Detroit News reported Monday, citing numbers from the commission.

A poor economy has reduced the value of property, which then reduces the amount of money available to run police and fire departments. Many cities lost population or reported no gains in the past decade, especially Detroit, whose population is down 25 percent.

In the Detroit area, Oakland County's Waterford Township has 50 officers compared to 106 in 1999 and could be losing more after voters rejected a $3.6 million millage.