Posted by: Jennifer Gomori Posted date: June 20, 2016
— By Jennifer Foley, POJ Editor
Swartz Creek and Mundy Township Police wanted to join forces to save money while providing better coverage, but the problem was deciding which of their unions would represent them?
Swartz Creek Police were represented by the Police Officers Labor Council (POLC) and Mundy Township Police Patrol and Command Officers were represented by Michigan Association of Police (MAP). Swartz Creek Officers touted the benefits of being POLC members to the Mundy Township Officers.
“We had been with MAP from the inception of unionizing in the early 90s and it was just an issue of POLC representatives being more local and they had a good reputation – they knew the situation,” said Mundy Township Sgt. Joel Grahn. “I talked to Lloyd Whetstone (POLC Membership Services) a bunch of times because he did represent the Command at Grand Blanc City and I had friends over there. Even though we wanted to stay loyal we wanted to make a change as well.”
“They liked the fact that we have attorneys on staff that are available to them and their union rep is local and they know me,” said POLC Labor Rep. Hal Telling.
After taking a vote of their memberships, Mundy Township Patrol joined the POLC Dec. 29, 2015 and Mundy Command followed suit on Feb. 4, 2016. Meanwhile, Swartz Creek City Council and Mundy Township Board voted to form the Regional Police Authority of Genesee County. The Authority will be represented by the POLC.
“We picked up both units and they did it as a cost saving measure,” Whetstone said. “It’s going to save these two communities some money.”
The Authority will save money on administrative, building and equipment costs. Mundy Township Police Chief Dan Atkinson will be the Authority Chief and, once the transition is complete, Mundy Township Deputy Chief Rick Clolinger (retired Swartz Creek Police Chief) will no longer be employed.
“Instead of two chiefs, we’ll be down to one chief. The Deputy Chief is only there to facilitate the merger. Instead of supervisors in each, now we only need one supervisor,” Grahn said, adding a Mundy Township Police Supervisor recently retired as well as two Mundy Officers. “There’s not going to be any cuts because everybody’s kind of gone down through attrition over the past year,” Grahn said. There will also be less clerical staff and operations will be in one centralized location instead of two buildings.
“They got the right guys in place. Our chief was second in command for State Police when he retired. They hired him to get a guy who could bring people together,” Grahn said.
The Authority Board is made up of three Swartz Creek officials, three Mundy Township officials and a citizen at large. The authority will improve emergency response. “When they’re at a critical scene or fatal accident or homicide they can move resources and flood that area and accomplish more,” Grahn said. “Mundy Township is two times bigger than Creek. We put out two cars, they do one. When one gets tied up on scene, we have an extra officer who can respond. They have one command officer, we have three. They have one secretary, we have three.”
Swartz Creek Patrol contract, which was settled by the POLC, expires June 2016 and the Mundy Township Patrol and Command contracts, settled by MAP, expires March 31, 2017. “Generally you wait for the end of contract, but … technically it’s a new employer with the Regional Authority. That’s why we had to decide who the labor rep would be,” Grahn said. “They honor the contracts that are in place. POLC is handling it … and anything that comes up that pertains to the contract they will fight for it.”
“We’re representing Swartz Creek and Mundy Township and both individual contracts exclude the part-time officers,” Telling said. “When they become the authority, the part timers will be included. All together there will be 28 police officers in the authority if you include part timers.”
Other departments will be invited to join the authority. “Our Chief and Deputy Chief have talked to quite a few township boards,” Grahn said. “Others have expressed an interest in joining.”