Mich. town nixes plan to merge police and fire departments

The proposal would have created a new department with some police officers cross-trained to respond to fires


Riley Murdock
MLive.com, Walker, Mich.

BUENA VISTA, Mich. — Buena Vista Charter Township no longer is considering a proposal to merge its police and fire departments after hearing public backlash to the plan, the township superintendent said.

The proposal considered by Buena Vista’s Board of Trustees would have created a new public safety department with some police officers cross-trained to respond to fires, eliminated some fire jobs and hired more part-time, on-call firefighters to maintain services.

A volunteer firefighter asks a question during a town hall meeting at Buena Vista Community Center to discuss a proposed police-fire merger on Jan. 3, 2020. The town announced it is no longer considering the proposal after public backlash. (Photo/Riley Yuan, MLive.com)
A volunteer firefighter asks a question during a town hall meeting at Buena Vista Community Center to discuss a proposed police-fire merger on Jan. 3, 2020. The town announced it is no longer considering the proposal after public backlash. (Photo/Riley Yuan, MLive.com)

“As of right now, the Board of Trustees is taking that (proposal) off the table,” township Superintendent Torrie McAfee said.

The township currently is negotiating with its police union, McAfee said. To fix the budget issues that prompted the proposal, the hope now is that something changes at the bargaining table, she said.

The proposed merger was tabled after community concern at a recent board meeting, after which a town hall was scheduled to explain the proposal and solicit ideas. Those in attendance were strongly opposed to the plan.

During her presentation at the town hall, township Supervisor Christina Dillard said the township cannot maintain its current budget and continue its employee pension funding in the near future, requiring cost-cutting measures.

“We are looking for ways as a township to not only save money, but to be a township in the future,” Dillard said at the meeting. “Operating how we are right now, we won’t make it.”

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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