By Erin Eschels
Ingham County Chronicle staff writer
For two to three years, there has been approximately a 420 square-mile zone in Ingham County with little to no police coverage. With a total area of 560.94 square miles, the out-county areas account for almost three quarters of the total county.
Some larger cities and townships within the county, such as East Lansing and Meridian Township, have their own police departments. However many areas are left open for the Ingham County Sheriff’s Office and the Michigan State Police, whom are both responsible for the entire county. Due to the lack of money in these out-county townships, there are not enough resources to have this area covered efficiently.
“When people call 911, it’s directed to the sheriff or state police,” said Aurelius Township Supervisor Larry Silsby. “The sheriff does not have enough people. When there’s two deputies hauling prisoners and the others are off on something else, there’s just no one left.”
In 2011, the county had a vote whether or not to levy a fee for police coverage in the out county. It was ultimately voted down, yet “dead zone” residents are not satisfied.
“When I call 911, it takes a very long time, if at all, for someone to show up,” said Alaiedon Township resident and County Clerk Barb Byrum. “When normal people would call 911, a cop would show up and take the report. Not anymore. Call 911, they say come on down to Mason to file your police report.”
Though the out-county takes up a larger area of Ingham, most of the population is in the northwest corner in Lansing, East Lansing and Okemos. Since these larger cities are covered by their own departments, the majority voted down paying more for the sheriff’s services, leaving residents outside this area without adequate police coverage.