It’s unfortunate that, as of press time, the debate over disbanding the Imlay City Police Department still doesn’t have numbers attached to it. Tomorrow, a community forum will be held at the fairgrounds where residents can voice their opinions on the proposal to turn over department operations to the Lapeer County Sheriff’s Office but neither they or city commissioners will be fully informed in advance of that meeting as to what the actual savings outsourcing would amount to. In general, residents appear to not be in favor of the proposal without even knowing a dollar amount but others might be reserving their judgment until budget figures are known or they better understand where the potential savings could be used.
Last week, Mayor Joi Kempf provided an outline of what Sheriff Scott McKenna could offer. In a nutshell, the change would amount to different uniforms and patrol cars plus added police coverage. At the outset, city leaders said financial reasons were at the root of their decision to explore outsourcing. If that’s truly the case then a proposal with some actual figures should have been communicated by now.
It’s also unfortunate that some city leaders have not conducted themselves professionally as this debate has played out. The outgoing police chief’s decision to use the Imlay City Police Department’s Facebook page to defend his personal behavior and disparage some of his own officers was disappointing. Scott Pike has every right to explain himself and his actions but it should have been done in a setting other than a public social media account that’s meant to represent the city department as a whole and not just its leader. His decision has only injected more drama into what is already an emotionally-charged issue.
Social media can be a useful tool for municipalities and agencies to swiftly and easily communicate with residents but typically policies are in place to prevent them from becoming personal platforms.
We hope that, going forward, everyone involved in this matter can be respectful, professional and transparent so as to make a sound decision for the city of Imlay City and its residents.