ALPENA - The residents of Sanborn Township have had enough of the crime in their township, and several approached the Alpena County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday to express their concerns over the lack of police presence. Salina Funk and Frank McCourt represented members of the Sanborn community and requested the county examine how its money is allocated and to a place that can help combat the crime.
McCourt said the amount of crime, particularly breaking and enterings, in the township has led to damaged property, stolen items, higher insurance rates, and stirred emotions such as fear and anger. He said if something isn't done, he fears residents will take matters into their own hands.
"There have been a lot of B&Es. We have people being threatened and like I told the prosecutor and the commissioners, if it keeps up somebody in the responsible community is going to say they have had enough and react and then we are going to be the ones who are going to suffer," McCourt said.
Funk helped to arrange an impromptu meeting Monday to discuss th issue with others from the township. She said a flyer was posted and she thought a few people would attend. When the meeting took place, there were more than 40 concerned people looking for a solution.
"We have been victimized three times in less than a year, so we thought it was time to reach out to the community," Funk said. "I thought we would have a few show up, we ended up with 41. We are going to put the flyer back out and hold another meeting and we think we will get twice the amount we had Monday. Everybody has been frustrated and now we are angry."
The commissioners discussed the issue and explained how funds don't allow increasing patrols. The board decided to form an ad hoc committee to investigate ways law enforcement can be more effective throughout the county. Commissioner Mark Hall said one solution, even though it may not be popular, would be a millage for police operations.
"There has been an increase of calls from different municipalities and it appears there is a greater need for people needing assistance from law enforcement and today it just sort of came up front," Hall said. "We are running as tight a financial ship as most counties and if we could hire more deputies we would. We need to come up with a solution and then let what democracy does. Send it to the people for their decision and that does come down to dollars and cents."
Commissioner Tom Mullaney said the state approved spending millions to train and place 180 new state troopers. He said the state would have got more bang for its buck if it had used the money on county and city police around the state.
"I think the state was a little bit premature on what it did. It would be much more cost efficient to send the money to locations, let them hire and expand," Mullaney said. "You could have put on 240 deputies on the roads in the counties for what was spent for the 180 state police troopers. If the state can afford 100 percent pay for a state trooper, then it can afford 100 percent pay for a county deputy."
The ad hoc committee will consist of Hall, Commissioner Jeff Kowalski and the chairman will be Mullaney. No date was set for the committee's first meeting.
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Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689.