By Alyssa Firth
Meridian Times staff writer
Meridian Township Police are now sharing their patrol hours with neighboring Williamstown Township. Since Jan. 1, Meridian has been patrolling the township with at least 80 patrol hours a week.
“[We’re patrolling] the whole township. The city is not included. They have their own police department,” Sgt. Don Lound said.
The police department is under a two-year contract with the neighboring township and committed to 80 hours of patrol time a week. For the first 180 days, either party has the opportunity to back out of the agreement.
“The [Meridian] Township board approved the contract with Williamstown Township. They knew it would stretch our services a little bit,” Chief David Hall said.
With 39 officers on staff, Meridian is hiring an additional officer to patrol Williamstown. The contract ultimately helps the police department in 2012. Because the contract allows money for more staff, the station will not have let anyone go the year after.
“We’re setting that money aside so that when 2012 comes around we’re not concerned about less revenue overall. This will prevent laying off for 2012.” Hall said.
Depending on the time of day, four to seven officers are on duty at one time. If Meridian goes over the 80 hours of patrol time, officers will be dispatched from Meridian to any calls in Williamstown instead of patrolling.
“We will respond if there is a call for assistance in Williamstown,” Lound said.
Meridian already has a mutual aid agreement with neighboring cities to respond to emergency calls when requested, including from Ingham County Sheriff’s Department. Yet Hall has seen a decline in emergency calls in Meridian.
“Calls for service have gone down in the past year,” Hall said.
With fewer calls and more staff, Hall isn’t worried about the contract.
“[The board] approved the hiring of one person, recognizing there’d be money left over,” Hall said. “I guess some people have voiced a concern, but I don’t have a concern.”
View Meridian and Williamstown Townships in a larger map