News from your Sheriff

September 7, 2019

John Wilson

I have stalled a little in writing my article because I was waiting for the budget process to be finished. Well I hope we are finished, but who knows what the future might hold. To help the County balance the overall budget we had to cut over $450,000.00 between 3 of our budgets. We did lose some positions that we were holding to fill until after the budget process. These positions were vacant so no currently filled positions will be lost. The Sheriff is mandated under the Michigan Constitution, amongst several other things, to respond to calls requiring police assistance. What any Sheriff in the State of Michigan has to do is determine what a safe number of Deputies it takes to handle that call volume. With our current call volume and the number of Deputies that we have on, myself and the Undersheriff feel that we are at the bare minimum to keep a safe environment for both the public and our Deputies working out there.

There were days, when I was a young Deputy working from 12 midnight to 8 a.m., where I was the only unit out in the County besides the City of Clare and a contract unit in the City of Harrison. I couldn’t even imagine being the only law enforcement car out there in today’s world. Back then our back up was a long way away. Today it takes a lot more man hours and resources to handle investigations then it did back in the 1990’s and 2000’s.

We have added almost an entire position just to handle the electronic side of investigations. What I mean by this is in almost every crime there is a cell phone or some other digital device that has evidence on it pertaining to the crime that is being investigated. This adds a whole new level of digital evidence that has to be seized, obtain search warrants, and then searched.

Recently, we lost Detective Kyle Binger who took a position with the Gladwin City Police Department. Kyle will go into the Gladwin Schools as their School Liaison. We would like to Congratulate Kyle Binger and wish him well. This past spring, we also lost Deputy Josh Loudenslager to the City of Mt. Pleasant Police Department. Congratulations to him and we wish him well in his future in law enforcement. In our Central Dispatch, we lost Dispatcher Stephanie Brown who was hired as an educator with the Farwell Area Schools. Congratulations to her and her future in the education field.

Throughout my career in serving the citizens of Clare County, I have had the privilege to work with many great people. We do what we can to hire and keep quality people to serve this county at the wage and benefits we have to offer. Sometimes their dreams take them to other jobs, but also higher wages and better benefits take them to other jobs.

Clare County is the lowest paying county in central Michigan compared to the five counties that we border. As of the 2018 Michigan Sheriff’s Association wage study, top scale Clare County Deputies are $2.64 below the average of the surrounding counties we border. Correction Officers in Clare County make an average of $2.24 less an hour compared to surrounding counties. We have double the number of jail beds compared to four of the counties we border and are just a little less then Isabella for jail bed space. Besides Isabella County, Clare County has a larger population then the other four counties we border.

Something needs to change for Corrections and Law Enforcement in this county. We need to start to go the other way and pay the people that serve and protect Clare County both on the Road and in the Jail what they should be paid. We all made a choice to serve this county and understood the wages and benefits that we would receive, but we can’t keep going in the direction we are heading. Our budgets were cut drastically for this next fiscal year and does not look good for the future.

We go out of our way to maintain revenue from the jail coming into the general fund. This money that is brought in goes into the general fund, not directly into the Sheriff’s Budget. We have put in for an increase in the amount that the U.S. Marshall’s pay for housing Federal Inmates in hope to help out the entire county budget.

Like Always, God Bless
Sheriff John S Wilson

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