Pontiac Disbanding Police Department
Detroit Free Press via YellowBrix
October 13, 2010
PONTIAC, MI — City officials signed a memorandum of understanding Tuesday to disband the Police Department and turn patrols in Pontiac over to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office as soon as December.
Faced with mounting red ink, the cash-strapped city of 66,000 residents has chipped away at its Police Department in recent years with layoffs and cutbacks that required help at times from Michigan State Police and the Sheriff’s Office just to keep road patrols operating.
“This is going to be very, very controversial,” said Pontiac Mayor Leon Jukowski. "We’ve known this could happen. It’s been discussed for some time, but the signing of the memorandum of understanding today makes it almost certain.
“By December, no later than January, we will no longer have a Pontiac Police Department, and our city’s public safety will be handed over to the Oakland County sheriff.”
Jukowski noted the contract still must be signed.
“Having been the department’s attorney for 10 years, I have mixed feelings about it,” he said. “The good thing is we will still have police services, including current officers. They will just be changing uniforms. I hope it’s going to work.”
An official with the union that represents Pontiac police officers objected Tuesday night to the city’s plans.
Fred Timpner, executive director of the Michigan Association of Police, said the union signed a contract with the city’s former emergency financial manager, Fred Leeb, that runs through 2012.
“I believe the city has to honor that contract and we will be asking that they do that,” he said. “I don’t think there is any way they can ignore itso they can nowcontract with the sheriff. A deal is a deal.”
Emergency Financial Manager Michael Stampfler, appointed July 1, could not be reached for comment. Jukowski said the changeover is expected to save the city, which has a $12 million deficit, about $2 million a year. The Sheriff’s Office will supply 24-hour patrols and all police services, including dispatch. The sheriff is expected to operate a city substation out of the current police headquarters.
The sheriff contracts police services for 15 communities, including Rochester Hills, Royal Oak and Oxford Township.
The proposed contract from the Sheriff Office will cost about $10.2 million and provide 74 officers, the city’s current police staffing.