By Summer Ballentine
Mason Times staff writer
Members of the Vevay Township Board of Trustees will decide March 7 whether to contract the Mason Police Department to respond to alarms in the township hall.
Mason City Council members voted unanimously to approve the agreement during the Feb. 7 meeting. Before the Mason Police Department begins implementing the memorandum, Vevay Township trustees also must grant approval.
Under the current draft of the agreement, Mason police will only respond to security alarms in the township hall. Mason police will be reimbursed based on the amount of time spent responding and for any processing fees if a legitimate threat is found. The township will not be charged if the call is canceled before police arrive.
Although police officers throughout Ingham County can take police action because of their mutual aid agreement, other questions have been raised that must be addressed before the agreement is fully implemented, Mason Police Chief John Stressman said.
“There is a been some concern identified to whether the police officers need to be sworn in by the Vevay Township clerk,” he said. “Before we actually implement the agreement, the clerk has got to get back with us and let us know what’s the next step to be taken.”
If passed, the memorandum will be mutually beneficial to Mason and Vevay Township, said Mason Mayor Leon Clark.
“It’s beneficial to (Vevay Township) from the standpoint that we can provide these services,” Clark said. “It’s beneficial to us because it starts to create a good interaction between us and Vevay Township.”
With the substantial amounts of money the township will be handling as taxes are being processed, township officials were concerned about robberies, Vevay Township Supervisor Ron Weesies said.
After staffing in the Ingham County Sheriff’s Department was cut, township administrators worried about how quickly a panic alarm would be answered, Weesies said.
“They identified an immediate need and they wanted to make sure there was an immediate response if the alarm went off,” Stressman said.
When students and staff members at Dansville Middle School waited more than 30 minutes for police to arrive after a student was identified possessing a gun on Jan. 11, Vevay Township officials grew more concerned, Weesies said.
Working with the Mason Police Department would ensure a more timely response and provide peace of mind to staff members, he said.
Providing this service most likely will not be financially draining or time-consuming for the Mason Police Department, Stressman said. Mason borders Vevay Township and responding to alarms will not be an imposition on police officers’ workloads, he said.
If passed by the Vevay Township Board of Trustees, the agreement will be under annual review. Each year, the board of trustees and Mason City Council will determine whether the services still are necessary, Stressman said.
Working with the Mason Police Department also will be “virtually cost-free” for Vevay Township, Weesies said. Unless a risk is identified in the building, Vevay Township will only be charged for every 15 minutes of time an officer spends responding to the alarms. A security check typically takes about 15 minutes, Stressman said.