Township police finish year

Published 11:50 am Tuesday, December 27, 2005

By By ERIN VER BERKMOES / Niles Daily Star
NILES - In just five days Niles Township residents won't see the familiar white squad cars, with the red and white striped shield on the hood, patrolling. Instead residents will see Berrien County Sheriff's Department cars with their brown and gold sheriff's emblem on the side panel patrolling the roads of the township.
Deputies from the Berrien County Sheriff's Department will begin patrolling Niles Township on Jan. 1, 2006, as township residents failed to approve a millage for 2 mills in the August election which would have helped the township's own police department stay in operation. Instead the department is being disbanded.
Bailey said the department currently patrols the unincorporated townships within the county and has helped the township police department in back-up situations.
The sheriff's deputies will be assisted by troopers from Niles Michigan State Police Post.
Currently the Niles Township Police Department has just two full time officers, Interm Chief Mike Wood and 35 year-veteran Darrell Snyder, along with several part-time officers.
Both Wood and Snyder have been offered positions with the sheriff's department at the county jail.
The Niles Township Police Department has been protecting the citizens of the township some 53 years, according to Township Supervisor Bill Myers.
Including the August millage vote, township residents had been asked three previous times to approve a millage which would help fund the police department.
Myers said he believes the township residents didn't pass the millage because they didn't want to pay the extra taxes and also wanted to try something new in terms of police protection. The Berrien County Sheriff's Department is a new option.
Despite the failure of the millages, the township continued to support its police department through the general fund.
Myers said the amount it was costing to run the department just kept growing. When in last year's budget it was stated that it would cost $810,000 to run the department, things had to be cut back.
Myers also believes the township residents may have voted the millage down for another reason.
The township has signed a three year contract with the Berrien County Sheriff's Department to provide its residents with policing coverage.