Eaton County Public Safety hears dept. updates, progress

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Eaton County Courthouse in Charlotte, MI, where the Board of Commissioners meet regularly on different committees (Eaton County Courthouse by /

The Eaton County Public Safety Committee recently met to discuss the recertification of problem-solving courts in the area, in addition to hearing updates from central dispatch and the emergency manager.  

Deputy of Community Corrections, Melanie Achenbach, spoke on the recertification of Eaton County’s problem-solving courts (PSCs) for drug/sobriety, mental health and veterans treatment that serve to rehabilitate people with criminal offenses so that they can live better lives outside the prison system. 

Every four years, the Eaton County PSCs have to undergo a recertification process to ensure that the courts are fulfilling their purpose. 

In Nov. 2021, the Michigan Supreme Court approved a grant of $250,000, intended to be split among the three courts within the Eaton County PSCs. 

“It’s a pretty intensive process for each program,” Achenbach said. “They review all of our documents, attend a staffing session, review hearings, and interview various team members… who work together to accomplish the goals…through these programs.”

Kelly Cunningham, central dispatch director for Eaton County, gave an update on the replacement of the Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) System. The system is used by dispatchers for all the tasks they perform day to day, such as intaking calls and dispatching units. 

Additionally, Cunningham is overseeing the implementation of Smart911, an app that allows Eaton County residents to put in their medical and other information to help assist first responders if necessary. 

“Back in the day when you dialed 9-1-1, everyone had a home phone and we had your address, the call-back number, the resident’s name, and now a lot of people don’t have home phones,” Cunningham said. “So, [with] cell phone numbers, all we get is a cell phone number, a provider and a GPS location, which isn’t always 100 percent accurate. […] You can build a Smart911 profile [and] we cannot search it unless you dial 911. It pops open on our screen, and you can put as much information to as little information as you’d like.” 

Emergency Manager for Eaton County, Ryan Wilkinson, spoke about funding for the Tri-County Hazard Mitigation Plan, which would better prepare and train people to handle disasters that could occur in the Eaton County area. 

“It’s been about a two-year effort. This is a plan that takes a look at hazard mitigation action, things that we can perform over the course of time in order to make things less severe should a disaster occur,” Wilkinson said. 

The next Public Safety meeting will be on Nov. 3 in the Eaton County Courthouse. 

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