Michigan House Republicans
Police staffing must be top priority
RELEASE|March 18, 2024
Contact: Cam Cavitt

Michigan is expecting a budget surplus of over $1.3 billion this year.

You would think there has to be some money there for local law enforcement, right?

Unfortunately, I’m not optimistic. We had a nearly $9 billion surplus last year. Democratic leadership still chose to decrease community law enforcement funding.

The situation for law enforcement across Michigan is in rough shape. The number of police officers in Michigan has fallen 19% — more than 4,500 individuals — since 2001. In the last three years alone, we’ve lost another 900 officers.

Democratic leadership already squandered one historic surplus on numerous political projects and unsustainable government growth. We can’t let local law enforcement get left behind again. Spending money to help local municipalities train and equip police will have a much broader impact than using taxpayer dollars to help rich people buy electric vehicles.

Staffing shortages are a plague affecting small communities all over the state, and Northeast Michigan is not immune. The Alpena County Board of Commissioners is considering raising property taxes to alleviate some of the financial burden faced by the Alpena County Sheriff’s Office.

Other local sheriffs are facing similar staffing shortages. Many are counting on cadets passing the academy.

But the problem is more severe than staffing. Our law enforcement needs additional funding to replace aging vehicles and equipment. Many departments still use expired equipment because of budget constraints.

There was so much money doled out in last year’s budget for special interest projects in big cities. If the state can pay for amphitheaters and swimming pools, it can afford to give law enforcement officers reliable equipment. We must reverse the trend of pulling money away and reinvest in the folks that keep us safe.

Our local police struggle to retain quality staff because there isn’t enough money in local budgets to match the pay offered by bigger cities downstate. Even if they get a young kid in who wants to be a cop, there are several geographical disadvantages that cripple our local police.

Every law enforcement officer must pass a test to gain arresting capabilities. The closest place that test can be taken is Grayling — nearly 100 miles away from Alpena. No one doubts the importance of ensuring our officers are well-trained and prepared for every possible outcome. Instead of making new recruits drive hours away for testing, we should empower law enforcement in our local communities to facilitate those exams and conduct in-house training.

Year after year, downstate folks seem to get more money from the budget. Whether it’s because they’re louder or have more money themselves, it’s a trend that must end. We cannot continue to let volume and donations dictate how taxpayer dollars are allocated. People in Northeast Michigan don’t have time to badger state government every day. Even if they did, folks in rural communities will never compete with the political weight of downstate cities — but they shouldn’t have to.

Our communities deserve resources just as much as anywhere else in the state. We’re not asking for the whole pie, just a fair slice to help our local law enforcement address the crisis-level shortages they face.

State Rep. Cam Cavitt, R-Cheboygan, represents the 106th state House District, which includes Alcona, Alpena, Montmorency, and Presque Isle counties and portions of both Oscoda and Cheboygan counties. Cavitt serves on the House Appropriations Committee and as Republican vice chair on the Military and Veterans Affairs and State Police Appropriations subcommittee.

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