Cass County Clerk discusses changes to office

Published 9:05 am Friday, February 19, 2016

With the first major election of 2016 right around the corner, Cass County Clerk/Register Monica Kennedy and her staff naturally have a lot on their plate.

Thanks to changes to concealed carry permits laws, along with talks of possibly relocating to a new office, the responsibilities tasked to department are more numerous than ever.

In a short, informal presentation to the members of Dowagiac Rotary Club Thursday, Kennedy shared some of the challenges the county’s recording keeping office has faced over the last several months, and what lies ahead of the department as it prepares for the primary election on March 8. The Rotarian also fielded questions from her fellow club members during the presentation, ranging from inquiries about the primary to the status of the proposed move of the office from the county annex to the Law and Courts Building.

Over the last several months, Kennedy’s staff has adjusted to its new role as the main processor of applications for concealed pistol licenses, she said. The change follows the elimination of the three-person gun boards, which formerly handled the screening of applicants, last December following the signing of new state laws meant to stream line the process of residents applying for and receiving concealed carry permits.

Under the new law, the clerk’s office staff handles the application and issuing process, with the sheriff’s office handling finger print work, Kennedy said. Department employees must also connect electronically with the Michigan State Police Department, which handles background checks for applicants.

Since the elimination of the gun board, the amount of CPL applications the clerk’s office receives has almost quadrupled, the clerk said.

“We process like 10 to 15 [permits] a day,” Kennedy said. “It’s incredible, and it’s all new applicants getting gun permits.”

As the primary processor of these permits, the clerk’s office also faces the brunt of fury from many of the rejected applicants — who are required under law to wait until the next calendar year to apply again, Kennedy said.

“It’s not fun,” Kennedy said. “We’ve had a lot of issues.”

The clerk also briefly touched on recent talks of relocating, a subject that has come up several times during recent meetings of the Cass County Board of Commissioners.

As the record keeper for both the county and circuit court, Kennedy’s staff is divided between the department’s main office at the county annex and the Law and Courts Building. Recently, the clerk has discussed the possibility of uniting the staff at the courthouse, allowing employees to more easily cover each other’s responsibilities while cutting down on the amount of travel Kennedy has to make, she said.

“We would love to get out of the annex,” she said. “If any of you would visit it you would see why.”