In periods of transition it’s common to evaluate how programs or systems are working. With the pending departure of Chief Scott Pike, it’s understandable that Imlay City leaders might take the opportunity to examine its police operations but outsourcing is not what anyone expected to be on the table.
The merging of law enforcement agencies is usually something reserved for small departments struggling financially or with other serious issues. Back in 2010, the prospect was raised in Capac when the village was looking to cut costs. The council considered turning over operations to the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office but ultimately decided against it. From all appearances, Imlay City is not experiencing serious money issues but city leaders have stressed their desire to be fiscally responsible looking to the future. Certainly, its common for policing to dominate most communities’ budgets but if leaders are uncomfortable with those levels of spending, searching for ways to trim expenses or alter programs is usually a first step, not outsourcing.
It’s also worth noting that Imlay City is not small by Lapeer County standards. It’s the second-largest community in the county, home to one the county’s biggest employers and sits at the crossroads of an interstate and extremely busy state highway. It seems surprising that the Lapeer County Sheriff’s Office would want to assume operations of an agency the size of Imlay City’s and it would be rather unprecedented in terms of local history. Currently, the majority of the department’s contracts are with several townships in less populated areas of the county.
It sounds as if the concept of turning over patrols to the sheriff’s office is not very popular with the general public. If they let their city commissioners know of their opinions in the coming weeks, this matter may go no further than the sub committee investigation that’s been launched but the matter has certainly raised some important issues about what law enforcement might look like for the future in Lapeer County.