Archived Story

Township supervisor proposes taking police coverage issue to voters

Published 9:35pm Friday, October 21, 2011

It’s becoming an annual tradition for Niles Township Supervisor Jim Kidwell.

Jim Kidwell

For the third year in a row, Kidwell has proposed switching the township’s police coverage. In his proposed 2012 budget, Kidwell hasn’t budgeted for the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department, which has provided coverage for the township since 2006.
Instead, he has planned for the township to have its own police department — a move that Kidwell argues could save the township about $80,000.
In order for those savings to be realized, though, the township residents would need to agree to allow the current millage designated for the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department to be used for township patrols.
Township Treasurer Jim Ringler believes the township should stand pat with the sheriff’s department.
“When we took the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department to the voters, they voted for them for our public safety,” Ringler said. “The people spoke, not the board. You have to respect what the people want.”
When he was elected supervisor in 2008, Kidwell, a Niles city police officer, pushed to bring back a township police department. But township residents narrowly approved a millage request for county coverage.
Kidwell knows that convincing the board to approve his budget, with the police department change, will be a tall task. The board has shut down his request the past two years.
“I really don’t think it will pass. The majority of the board is still steadfast on the sheriff’s department,” he said. “But my duty is to prepare a budget as cheaply as I can get by.”
The budget needs to be approved by the end of October. The board will have its next budget workshop 7 p.m. Monday.

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