Sheriff’s supporters mobilizePublished 3:49pm Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Six citizens spoke against potential 4-percent cuts to the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department budget, which would result in the loss of three positions.
Bob Hess, of Buchanan Neighborhood Watch, spoke to the board of commissioners in advance of its 10:30 a.m. meeting Thursday at the administration building in St. Joseph, about recently circulated petitions opposing the proposed 4 percent budget cut.
“The people of our community are opposed to this cut,” Hess said. “In two hours, one person was able to get nearly 60 signatures to oppose budget cuts in the Buchanan area.”
“I’m a strict conservative who believes in cutting budgets,” Hess told commissioners. “But not safety. We can’t afford to cut military, police or fire. The safety of our communities and the safety of all of our police officers in Berrien County will be in danger if this passes. I live across the border from South Bend, Ind. Not very far from where I live, it’s almost like a war zone — shootings after shootings after shootings.
“What are we going to advertise by cutting our sheriff’s department to those people who want to come across the border into Michigan? We’ve already seen crime increase in southern Berrien County because people come from Indiana and do home invasions and break-ins. We’ll see more of that if you cut our sheriff.”
Kevin Hester, a pastor and father of seven, encouraged commissioners “to make public safety and the Sheriff’s Department one of those things we won’t compromise and make it a non-negotiable issue.”
“In the last six years, I’ve lost 13 deputies from retirements,” Sheriff Paul Bailey told Niles Charter Township Sept. 17.