EATON COUNTY, Mich. (WLNS) – Eaton County Sheriff Tom Reich called on county commissioners to approve a bonus to help keep his remaining staff. On Friday, the Eaton County Ways and Means Committee decided not to vote on his request.
Now county officials say they don’t know what to do.
“We had an opportunity today to actually do something and we dropped the ball.” Eaton County Public Safety Chairman Tim Barnes said.
Barnes said he’s worried after county commissioners decided not to approve deputy bonuses to help keep the deputies the county already has.
“When you call for 911, say for an armed robber in your home with a gun. It might take a while. We might not have anyone to come out there,” Barnes said.
Officials say the county has been losing deputies to retirement and other departments that offer higher wages and with fewer deputies, Eaton County Sheriff Tom Reich said that means less patrolling.
“It’s sad. I mean I can’t put one deputy on a night shift to work by himself. It’s a dangerous job,” Sheriff Reich said.
County commissioners did offer an alternate solution; reopening contracts with the command and deputy unions, but Barnes said it’s just not worth it.
“That’s also gonna cost the county money and it’s gonna take longer. In the meantime, we’re losing out,” Barnes said.
Sheriff Reich said he’s not pleased with how county commissioners are handling this situation.
“To me, they don’t value the deputies I mean these deputies put their lives on the line every day and for this to happen it’s just very, not only disrespectful. It’s very disappointing,” Reich said.
Despite this setback, Sheriff Reich said he won’t stop fighting for higher wages and bonuses for county deputies, and as for the community, he has a message.
“I would like to apologize to them, but we’re gonna do, I’m gonna do what I can to ensure that we have a road patrol. We’re gonna work 24/7.”