County to purchase police jet skis; Sheriff announces new hires

Published 8:20 am Wednesday, May 25, 2022

CASS COUNTY — A nationwide shortage of jet skis is forcing local law enforcement find an alternative route to keep the local lakes safe this summer.

Upon request from the Cass County Sheriff’s Department, the Cass County Board of Commissioners approved the purchase of two personal watercraft for the Sheriff’s Department Marine Division for no more than $41,000.

According to Cass County Sheriff Rick Behnke, the department used to be able to get personal watercraft from local marinas on a lease basis, but most marinas no longer offer leases due to a shortage of available craft.

“[Personal watercraft] are important for marine patrol,” Behnke said. “They are able to catch other personal watercraft that are in violation, which our other boats cannot. They also are quicker in response to people in distress on the waters. They’re easier to load and unload when you take the trailer from lake to lake.”

Behnke said the department has received a quote on two personal watercrafts for $40,000, and urged the board to act quickly. He added the marine patrol began last weekend, and will be out in full force by Memorial Day weekend.

Separately, Behnke reported the department is closer to being fully staffed after several new hires. Former Cass County Corrections Officer Jessica Myers was hired as a deputy on May 9. According to Behnke, Myers was named number one in her class at West Shore Community College Police Academy, as well as best driver.

“The only female in her class, and she’s the best driver,” Behnke said. “I thought that was pretty cool.”

Tyler Carson, meanwhile, was hired as a deputy last week. Carson recently graduated from the Kalamazoo Valley Community College Police Academy. Both new hires were sponsored and supported through the academy by the sheriff’s department, according to Behnke.

“Personnel-wise, with these new deputies, that gets us back in line,” Behnke said. “Hopefully we’ll be full strength by the fourth of July.”

In other business, the board:

• Approved a motion to approve the purchase of Zoom Webinar services for commissioner meetings.

• Approved a resolution to adopt a smoke- and vape-free workplace policy.

• Approved a resolution to honor and thank Cass County early childhood care providers.