Have you heard about the Citizens Police Academy?
Crime scene investigations, medical examiner duties, officer force, emergency response, underwater recovery and even jail time are all topics taught this year at the Citizens Police Academy at the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office in Paw Paw. Sheriff deputies teach policing methods here with the goal of improved communication between law enforcement officers and county citizens. Eleven sessions, each on Wednesday evenings beginning mid-January, 2018, have been designed specifically to provide you with an insider’s look at law enforcement.
Sheriff Dan Abott, at the county website, said, “I feel this is a very valuable experience we can give to the citizens. In today’s world, it is very important to be transparent and allow the public to look at the world of law enforcement from behind the scenes.”
The Prosecutor’s Office, an FBI Special Agent, a Drug Recognition Expert, and Police K9 Unit personnel are all scheduled to teach as well. In fact the Citizens Police Academy course is just packed with great information — much more than I can list here. See for yourself! Seating is limited however and applications are being accepted now so deliver or mail their form to the County Sheriff, 205 S. Kalamazoo, Paw Paw, MI 49079 to reserve your seat.
A new joint Allegan/Van Buren County public defender is on the horizon. Van Buren County Commissioners voted their approval to a development plan for the new position at their July 11, 2017 meeting.
Will a public defender — an attorney representing poor residents in trouble with the law — step into the courtroom sometime soon?
A Herald Palladium report from 2016 explains how the county may be forced to create, or share with neighboring counties, the public defender’s office.
About $700,000 of county money goes to defending poor clients every year according to the article. Will that figure increase or decrease when this new position is introduced?
by Chuck Williams
UPDATE: The millage proposal failed big time.
Van Buren County offered public tours of its courthouse and jail in Paw Paw in March and April, 2017 to no avail.
With these tours the county wanted to increase the public’s awareness of what these facilities need to continue to be useful.
Richard Godfrey, Chairman of the Van Buren County Board of Commissioners, told me, “Basically all of the structures are old and they are outdated and they need major renovation.”
The May, 2017 election included a jail and court millage proposal that, county commissioners agree, will bring these facilities up to today’s standards. The millage proposal can be read online at webapps.sos.state.mi.us/MVIC/PublicBallot.aspx.
At the website, select Van Buren County followed by your community and precinct.
It proposed to increase property taxes up to .7 mills for a court upgrade addition and the renovation of the jail and of the administration building. See the Courier-Leader to read more.
The construction project discussion isn’t new. A Courier-Leader story from December, 2016 provides some background. In the article, past-Commissioner John Henry says too that the facility is outdated.
Godfrey also pointed to a problem in the county court house design that needs to be fixed. “The historic court house, you know, it was fine when it was built in 1902 and served the population well at that time,” Godfrey said,” but we have ten times as many people and the times have changed so that we don’t like to co-mingle our population with the prisoners as they go into the court room and situations like that need to be remedied so that we don’t have any potential problems — any disasters, actually — occur when we have prisoners and the public intersecting in our hallways.”
by Chuck Williams
What gives? The new transportation tax that kicked in Jan. 1, 2017 will add $460 million to the state bank account this year.
“Yet the state transportation budget will only have $160 million more this year for road repairs, not $460 million. That is because the Legislature shifted funds out of the transportation budget just as new tax revenues were coming into it,” reports Michigan Capitol Confidential.
According to their online article, Michigan moves money back and forth between funds, like in this example, all the time.
So is the practice OK as long as the Van Buren Road Commission get their money … sooner or later? Or is it a bad habit that deserves more attention than it currently gets?
See www.michigancapitolconfidential.com/where-the-money-from-higher-transportation-taxes-goes to learn more about this problem.
by Chuck Williams