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Township Police Contract Summary
The Put-in-Bay Township has contracted with the Ottawa County Sheriff to provide police protection for its
residents. Several factors played into why the Trustees chose the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office. One of the main
reasons was coverage for Middle Bass, which is a part of Put-in-Bay Township. For the past two years, Middle Bass
has barely had any police coverage during the times outlined in the contract with the Village of Put-in-Bay. The
Village was made aware of these issues and they were not rectified. At one point this fall, a council member told the
Township that they were fully aware in February 2022 that they could not cover Middle Bass, however, the
Township was never notified. Lastly, the Village’s Chief of Police as well as a council member told the Township
that they did not feel that they would be able to cover Middle Bass even if the Township went with the Village
Another issue was the 55% of the Village budget. According to police call records, about 39% of all police calls
are in the Township so the Trustees felt that 55% was excessive. In addition, that amount was not a concrete
number. During negotiations, the total Village Police budget kept increasing. The Trustees had asked for a detailed
explanation of where the money was spent in the past but never received this information.
The insurance part of the contract was a major concern for the Trustees. The fact that the village wanted the
Township to pay a percentage of their total police budget, made it very difficult for the Township to get coverage.
The Township’s insurance representative advised that going with the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office would
definitely lower the insurance rates because it’s a set amount and the Sheriff’s Office isn’t as much of a liability as
the Village is. The biggest issue with the insurance was the clause that the Township would be liable for up to
$2,000,000.00 of all claims against the Village. This could bankrupt the Township and the Trustees were not willing
to take that risk.
Is the Village contract less money on paper, possibly. It’s difficult to say with possible increases and insurance
liabilities. The Sheriff’s contract is a set dollar amount that includes startup costs. There is a provision for 100,000 in
vehicles. The Township has already cut this drastically by sourcing 2 good condition used Ford Explorer Police
Interceptor SUVs for about $10,000 each. They have also secured housing for about half of what the Township
expected to pay.
There are other items that are not a part of the dollar amount listed. For the past 3 years, the Township has
provide the Village Chief of Police free housing. The Township has also provided the use of the Township boat and
captains for police transportation. This includes all of the fuel costs associated with this. Last year, the usage of the
boat was approximately 87% for police use.
Is there a feud between the Village and the Township? Absolutely not. In fact, the Township has met with the
Village and the Sheriff to discuss how this new arrangement will work. Currently, the Village is covering police
calls in the Township until the Sheriff gets officers hired and moved here. (Estimated in March of 2023) The Village
is also providing a vehicle on Middle Bass until the boats run. The Township will continue to provide a boat for
police transportation for both the Sheriff and the Village. The Village will provide the holding cells for both the
Sheriff and the Village. All police dispatch will be handled by the Sheriff at no additional cost to the Village. Some
Villages pay upwards of $70,000 a year for this service. The Sheriff plans on bringing a K-9 unit to the island as
well as trained criminal investigators that will be available to the Village as needed.
Basically, the Board of Trustees did not feel that the Village could provide the protection needed even though
their contract was slightly less. Past experience made the Trustees believe that there would still be a shortfall in
coverage for certain areas of the Township. The Ottawa County Sheriff is able to provide the necessary coverage the
Township requires and their presence will benefit the entire island, not just the Township.
The previous piece is published in this month’s Put-in-Bay Gazette. The Gazette has been producing incredible independent Put-in-Bay island news for over 40 years. If you have any interest at all in what is happening on South Bass Island, we urge you strongly to subscribe to the Put-in-Bay Gazette. One-year online subscriptions are only $15, and print subscriptions are available as well. To subscribe please click here.
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