Letters

Letters 08-31-2015

Inalienable Rights This is a response to the “No More State Theatre” in your August 24th edition. I think I will not be the only response to this pathetic and narrow-minded letter that seems rather out of place in the northern Michigan that I know. To think we will not be getting your 25 cents for the movie you refused to see, but more importantly we will be without your “two cents” on your thoughts of a marriage at the State Theatre...

Enthusiastically Democratic Since I was one of the approximately 160 people present at when Senator Debbie Stabenow spoke on August 14 in Charlevoix, I was surprised to read in a letter to Northern Express that there was a “rather muted” response to Debbie’s announcement that she has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president...

Not Hurting I surely think the State Theatre will survive not having the homophobic presence of Colleen Smith and her family attend any matinees. I think “Ms.” Smith might also want to make sure that any medical personnel, bank staff, grocery store staff, waiters and/or waitress, etc. are not homosexual before accepting any service or product from them...

Stay Home I did not know whether to laugh or cry when I read the letter of the extremely homophobic, “disgusted” writer. She now refuses to patronize the State Theatre because she evidently feels that its confines have been poisoned by the gay wedding ceremony held there...

Keep Away In response to Colleen Smith of Cadillac who refused to bring her family to the State Theatre because there was a gay wedding there: Keep your 25 cents and your family out of Traverse City...

Celebrating Moore And A Theatre I was 10 years old when I had the privilege to see my first film at the State Theatre. I will never forget that experience. The screen was almost the size of my bedroom I shared with my older sister. The bursting sounds made me believe I was part of the film...

Outdated Thinking This letter is in response to Colleen Smith. She made public her choice to no longer go to the State Theater due to the fact that “some homosexuals” got married there. I’m not outraged by her choice; we don’t need any more hateful, self-righteous bigots in our town. She can keep her 25 cents...

Mackinac Pipeline Must Be Shut Down Crude oil flowing through Enbridge’s 60-yearold pipeline beneath the Mackinac Straits and the largest collection of fresh water on the planet should be a serious concern for every resident of the USA and Canada. Enbridge has a very “accident” prone track record...

Your Rights To Colleen, who wrote about the State Theatre: Let me thank you for sharing your views; I think most of us are well in support of the first amendment, because as you know- it gives everyone the opportunity to express their opinions. I also wanted to thank Northern Express for not shutting down these types of letters right at the source but rather giving the community a platform for education...

No Role Model [Fascinating Person from last week’s issue] Jada quoted: “I want to be a role model for girls who are interested in being in the outdoors.” I enjoy being in the outdoors, but I don’t want to kill animals for trophy...

Home · Articles · News · Features · Fewer cops ... more crime
. . . .

Fewer cops ... more crime

Patrick Sullivan - June 20th, 2011
People might not have noticed that in the dust of a lousy economy there
are fewer cops on the road in Northern Michigan.
In Benzie County, Sheriff Rory Heckman is afraid criminals have taken note.
In one case, a would-be gas station stick-up man told a clerk he would
come back and rob the place once the cops had knocked off for the night.
Last month, there were two more opportunistic crimes -- at Pinecroft golf
course, just outside of Beulah, thieves somehow made off with six golf
carts. At the Watson Benzie car dealership in Benzonia, tires were stolen
from a Jeep and concrete blocks were left in their place.
These were conspicuous crimes Heckman suspects never would have been
attempted had the perpetrators needed to worry about patrol cars rolling
up.
“These things all occurred after the police are gone,” Heckman said. “Why
do you think they occur? Because criminals know nobody’s out there.”

DEPARTMENTS STRUGGLE
Across Northern Michigan, some departments have struggled during the
economic downturn to maintain 24-hour road patrols.
Cuts have been bad in Kalkaska County, but not so bad that overnight
patrols needed to be scrapped.
Kalkaska Sheriff David Israel said he was able to work with county
commissioners to cover gaps.
“I experienced a big problem, a quarter million dollars out of my budget
in January,” Israel said. “It’s nobody’s fault. It’s the economy.”
Israel said he had to lay off five positions -- two full-time and three
part-time.
A shake-up at the state police means the trooper assigned to Kalkaska
County will work out of the Houghton Lake post, meaning even less police
coverage for the county.
“You’ve always got to prioritize,” said Kalkaska Sheriff
David Israel. “A barking dog might be the last thing that gets looked at.”
His main worry, though, was being able to maintain 24-hour road patrol.
In order to continue to operate round-the-clock, Israel said he needed to
replace an officer who will retire in July.
“I think the com-missioners listened to that and they saw clear to allow
me to fill that spot,” Israel said.
Israel said he also needed to change the shifts deputies work from eight
hours to 12 hours.
“You always have to rob from road patrol to make everything work,” he
said. “I gave up some supplies and some cars to avoid layoffs.”

PATROLS SACRIFICED
Otsego County Undersheriff Matthew Nowicki said budget problems have been
chipping away at his department for the last decade.
“We’ve not been replacing people since 2001,” Nowicki said.
That means the department has gone from staffing 11 road patrol deputies
and one detective to employing seven road deputies and no detective today.
During the same period, the county’s population grew by 3.7 percent,
according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
“We do not operate 24-hours and haven’t for a while,” Nowicki said.
When needed, state police or officers from the Gaylord Police Department,
who are deputized, respond to major calls.
The sheriff department does not patrol county roads between midnight and 6
a.m., Nowicki said. It’s been two years since there were full-time patrols
in Otsego County.
“Let’s say someone calls at one in the morning and it’s not a homicide,
but someone’s doing something, there’s something going on in a
neighborhood, ... maybe they suspect that a drug deal is going on,”
Nowicki said. “You may not get a response until morning.”
Nowicki said most residents are unaware there is such a gap in police
protection.
“Most people don’t realize law enforcement isn’t there until they need
it,” Nowicki said.
Elsewhere, budget problems haven’t been as severe or they’ve been handled
without cutbacks.
Antrim County Sheriff Daniel Bean said there have been no cuts recently at
his department.
“Our commissioners have been excellent in heading off any issues,” Bean
said in an email.
In Manistee, Sheriff Dale Kowalkowski said long-term planning by county
officials has enabled his department to weather the economic storm without
cuts.

CRIME OF OPPORTUNITY
There hasn’t been 24-hour road patrol in Benzie County since before
Heckman took office. Heckman said he’s only seen his budget slashed since
he arrived.
When serious crimes or crashes occur after hours, deputies are called in
from home or stay late after their shifts to handle the trouble.
That’s what happened on April 3, 2008, when two men decided to take
advantage of the lack of overnight road patrol to stage a robbery at the
Shell gas station in Honor.
The men, David Matthew Connell and Kasey Lee Allan, tried to recruit the
clerk to assist with the robbery.
The clerk refused, but Connell, at six feet four inches tall and 280
pounds, was able to intimidate the five-feet-four-inch-tall station clerk
into at least pretending to cooperate.
“Out of fear she pretended to play along,” the investigators wrote.
The clerk called the police immediately after the men left the store.
When the men returned just after 3 a.m., police, who stayed on after their
shifts, were ready. One deputy hid across the road, one hid in bushes near
the station, and two state police troopers waited in a car nearby, ready
to launch a pursuit.
The staged robbery took about three minutes. The men wore masks and used a
BB gun that looked like the real thing.
The next thing the deputies heard was the sound of the men bursting out of
the store yelling, “Let’s go! Let’s go!”
The police followed and Connell, 23, and Kasey, 21, were arrested without
trouble.
Police recovered a pillow case filled with cash and three cartons of
Marlboro cigarettes. The men were later convicted.

LAST STRAW
Heckman sees that crime and the two recent larcenies at the car dealership
and the golf course as bad signs.
“If these dummies can figure it out, ... it’s sad,” he said. “There’s a
lot of stuff that goes on at dark and I think a lot of the criminals know
that there’s nobody on the street.”
Last year, $300,000 was cut from the budget and the department lost four
and a half positions.
The department no longer has a detective bureau. Elsewhere in the
department, grants and fund-raisers fill gaps. A grant last year paid for
an open water marine patrol boat that will have to largely sit idle this
summer because the department can’t afford to keep it in the water. A
fund-raiser pays much of the cost of a K-9 program.
One of the department’s patrol cars has over 100,000 miles on it, way too
much for a car that’s supposed to be on the road doing police work,
Heckman said.
“It’s not like I’m asking for Dodge Hemi police cars and all this crazy
stuff, I’m just asking for basic stuff to get the job done,” Heckman said.
“The county board just doesn’t take public safety seriously.”
Heckman has decided he’s had enough.
“When people ask me how come you’re not going to run for reelection, it’s
because of that, it’s because of the contentious relationship I’ve had
with the county board,” he said.
Heckman said neither he nor his undersheriff, William Sholten, plan to run
again when their terms expire in 2012.
Roland Halliday, a county commissioner who took office this year and has
not been through a budget process, said he believes Heckman has done a
great job given
limited resources and he would be sorry to see him go.
He said he would like to get the department what it needs, but money is
tight.
“People need police protection, they need ambulances and 911,” Halliday
said. “As a commissioner I would like to do more than talk about it.”
 
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