Harrison Township has a new substation for its Macomb County Sheriff’s Office deputies on South River Road.

Harrison Township has a new substation for its Macomb County Sheriff’s Office deputies on South River Road.

Photo by Kristyne E. Demske

Deputies move into new substation

By: Kristyne E. Demske | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published October 25, 2021


HARRISON TOWNSHIP — Fall brought changes for the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office deputies serving the township, who now have a new place to call home when they’re on duty.

More than $600,000 worth of work has been completed on a former fire station in the township at 30360 South River Road that, more recently, was being used as storage for the Water and Sewer Department, to bring it online as a new substation for the 14 deputies.

The deputies had been stationed at Fire Station 1, 27061 Crocker Blvd., but Harrison Township Supervisor Kenneth Verkest said, “it was really cramped quarters.”

“This building not only accommodates the needs they have, but gives them some indoor storage of vehicles.”

The indoor vehicle storage bays will help, he said, because when vehicles are stored outside in winter’s cold, they can take a half-hour to warm up before the computers can function and they can be put back into service.

Work on the building also included adding bathrooms, installing a new roof and locker rooms, and adding all the technology infrastructure needed to support police work.

“There’s antennas on the building, so when the vehicles pull in, the cameras on the vehicles automatically download,” Verkest said.

The building now also has a shower and a boot-washing station so deputies can clean up when necessary, lockers with electrical plugs inside, a conference room, and a public restroom — “little things they pointed out that ... they’d like. (We) tried to think of those kinds of things,” Verkest said.

Harrison Township has contracted with the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office for deputies for nearly two decades, he explained. Doing so saves the township money and manpower that would otherwise be spent on human relations, technology costs and research, negotiating contracts and purchasing new vehicles, along with pension and other legacy costs.

“For us, contracting with the Sheriff’s Office really makes sense because it’s, write a check and it’s done,” he said. “I don’t have to worry about body cams or whether Tasers are a good option.

“We could not create our own police department for the millage rate that we’re paying and also be able to fund having a detective, having a computer crimes unit.”

By paying the county $152,950 per deputy, which includes the officer, support staff and vehicles, Verkest said Harrison Township benefits from the fact that the Sheriff’s Office provides support services, vehicle maintenance and more. The 2022 total cost of $2.464 million also includes dispatch, which is partially paid for out of the Fire Department’s budget. The contract for a total of 14 deputies provides for about three deputies in the township at all times. The Harrison Township Board of Trustees voted Sept. 13 to renew its three-year contract with the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office.

The Board of Trustees discussed simply selling the building and improving the space the deputies were already occupying at Fire Station 1, but its location in a neighborhood meant that other uses, such as an office or a store, might not be “harmonious” with residents living nearby, Verkest said. There were pros and cons to each decision, he said, but when the board discussed it, “a big factor was the fact that some of the command staff of the Sheriff’s Office indicated that they thought having a separate facility would be a better option for them.”

Because of the service the deputies provide to the township, Verkest said they wanted to do their best to honor the deputies’ wishes.

“They are the men and women that provide service to Harrison Township,” he said. “That building is our way of expressing that we appreciate their service and we want — truly, I want — men and women who are happy to be in Harrison Township to serve our residents.”