Sheriff Blames Deputy Exodus on Budget Woes

March 9, 2020

By Pat Maurer

Some recent criticism aimed at the Clare County Sheriff’s Office prompted an interview about the claim that the department is losing deputies.

Sheriff John Wilson said, “I think it’s funny that the only time something like this comes up is in an election year.”

Wilson said, “It’s a tough job. We have a high expectation for our employees in the very unique job that they are sworn to do. We are doing a lot more for less. It’s not for everybody and some are always going to be unhappy.”

The Sheriff said, “Lt. Ed Williams and seven other Sheriff’s Office employees have left in the past year. Of those seven, only one left because the deputy was unhappy with some of the department decisions.”

Lt. Ed Williams left the department when he was appointed Osceola County Sheriff. Of the others who have left, two followed Williams and left to work at the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office and one left to take a position with the City of Mt. Pleasant Police Department, Wilson said. “The pay and benefits are better than we can offer.”

He said two other officers resigned due to a mishandled incident and another went to Gladwin to work as a school liaison officer to be closer to his home.

Clare County’s pay scale is another serious impediment to finding employees, Wilson said. “We are struggling to find employees that will stay here for the pay and benefits.” He noted that “Clare County’s base pay and benefits average $2.64 per hour less than the five counties we touch. Correction Officers in Clare County make an average of $2.24 less an hour compared to surrounding counties.”

He added that Lake County, with one of the highest poverty levels in the state has a higher top pay than Clare County. “In Isabella County, the department top (base) pay is more than our Clare County Undersheriff’s pay.”

He said 12 road deputies are funded by the county. He said two officers are in training, but,

“Right now, we only have nine road officers. The Undersheriff, a Lieutenant and I are presently covering part of the day shift road patrol in addition to our regular duties.”

In September, Wilson said, “To help the County balance the overall budget we had to cut over $450,000.00 between three of our budgets.” He added, “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.”

The county budget is a serious problem, Wilson said. “In looking at the whole situation, this is the most financially challenging time I have seen in the 32 years I’ve been on the department.

“Throughout my career in serving the citizens of Clare County, I have had the privilege to work with many great people.” Wilson said in his September column. “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.”

He concluded, “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.”

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2 Responses to Sheriff Blames Deputy Exodus on Budget Woes

  1. joseph rentz Reply

    March 10, 2020 at 12:00 am

    Damn Shame what is going on,,,Sherrif Wilson Is Doing all he can with what he has ,and doing a fine job with that,,,,HE SHOULD Be Thanked Not Spanked,Open your eyes people,Look around Things are getting done ,even if we do not like the speed.,,,,SUPPORT JOHN WILSON.

  2. Jim Reply

    March 11, 2020 at 1:45 am

    There is no such requirement in the Michigan constitution that says the sheriff must provide a patrol. It is a state law that says he must provide securities which a patrol falls under but implyng its a constitutional requirment is false.

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