Three new police officers hired to boost department numbers

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published July 22, 2015


CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Attrition in Clinton Township’s Police Department became a grim reality during the recession, and continued efforts to get back to old employment numbers have proven to be successful.

The hiring trend has continued to go upward since the passing of a 1-mill police millage in November 2013, which was approved by 65.5 percent of township residents for a course of seven years.

In October 2014, Treasurer Bill Sowerby stated that fiscal conservativeness has led the township into a promising financial outlook for the future, with much of that credit due to the passing of police and fire millages the previous year.

“The biggest financial concern is that now that the voters were generous and understood the issue within the need of the police and fire budgets, and voted for the millages last November (2013), that should not give the township board going forward (the ability to suddenly overspend) because new dollars come in,” Sowerby said at the time. “Those dollars were earmarked for police and fire only, and anything it helped to free up in the general fund needs to be carefully spent and not overspent because in just a few years, the township has to go back to the same voters and ask for millage renewals for police and fire.”

On June 30, three additional officers were sworn in to bring the total number of township officers to 90.

Anthony Gavel, Ziad Elias and Joseph Biggers were the three officially added to the force. All possess previous experience in other police departments.

While members of the department admit that reaching old standards of hired officers — including the highest number of 110 — is still a work in progress that may ultimately not be reached for a while, the township’s budget has allowed for multiple officers to be hired simultaneously in different increments.

Manpower dropped from 110 to 84 during the recession.

Clinton Township Capt. Bruce Wade said the target right now, while aligned with the current budget and money allotted, is to hire three more officers in the fall to bring the total number to 93.

But even when the money is there, he said, it’s hard to fill holes left by retiring officers who possessed years of experience on duty.

“When you don’t get back to where we were at one time, there are obviously things not appropriated for,” Wade said. “Like right now, we don’t have a specialized traffic division, and in specialized bureaus we don’t have the number of people we’d like to have.”

Wade said that having first responders is the department’s top priority in the present time, which involves responding to accidents, crimes in progress and incidents of that nature. Staffing the road patrol is an obligation that demands the same kind of urgency, he said.

The millage allowed for a double-digit increase in officer staffing.

Wade said that the way new officers are trained is about a four-month process that tests their skills and readies them for every situation.

The department tends to hire multiple officers at one time because of the way training occurs, allowing for a gap between hiring and training periods.

“In a perfect world, we’re going to try to get three more hired in October,” he said. “There’s no set date. We have an eligibility list we draw on. We’re going to do background checks and hopefully get three more hired in October.”

On June 29, the township’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved the police department’s request to sell seven police-owned vehicles that no longer met the department’s needs.

The board permitted the vehicles to be auctioned off at Motor City Auction in Roseville for a flat fee of $100 per car sold. The Warren and Roseville police departments use the same service.