Deputy will be pulled from area drug enforcement team
by Dan Sanderson-Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 19, 2012 10:01 AM EDT
For the first time in just over two decades, the Crawford County Sheriff's Office will not have a deputy devoted to a multi-jurisdictional drug enforcement team due to budget constraints.
The budget proposed by the Crawford County Board of Commissioners for the 2012-13 fiscal year, calls for eliminating a sheriff's deputy devoted to the Strike Team Investigative Narcotics Group (STING).
County officials budgeted $86,000 to balance the road patrol budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year. Eliminating the deputy devoted to STING would result in a savings of $85,500 for the road patrol next year, but continued shortfalls in the fund are expected, according to county officials.
The county board is expected to adopt the proposed budget at its next regular meeting, scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 27. A required hearing, where the public will be allowed to comment on the budget recommendations, will be held at 10 a.m.
Earlier this year, Detective Lt. Jeff Keister, the commander of STING, said funding for the drug enforcement team would drop from between $115,000 to $200,000 for the next fiscal year.
The funds were diverted by former Gov. Jennifer Granholm to cover the costs to establish drug courts. The drug courts have more extensive programs and probation officers to deal with repeated offenders. Crawford County does not have an established drug court through the program.
Current state officials have focused on stepping up drug enforcement efforts in urban areas including Detroit, Flint and Saginaw.
STING covers a six-county area, which includes Arenac, Crawford, Iosco, Ogemaw, Oscoda, and Roscommon Counties.
Crawford County Sheriff Kirk A. Wakefield said a deputy from the county has been assigned to the team for 21 years.
While STING will have a presence in the area, the cuts result in a deputy from Crawford County no longer being devoted to enforcement efforts.
"The bad part is, I'm not going to have anybody out there full-time, making the bad guys looking over their shoulder all the time," Wakefield said.
The deputy currently assigned to STING will return to the road patrol.
The deputy will fill the spot of former Crawford County Sheriff's Deputy Jason Alexander, who resigned from his position in June.
"I didn't want to fill his position because I knew it was going to be short lived, anticipating something was going to happen to my budget," Wakefield said.
County officials will address the issue of having an officer assigned to STING since officers working undercover handle cases involving stolen property and help solve other crimes.
"It's something that we need to look at bringing back in the future for that reason," said Crawford County Administrator Paul Compo.
The school liaison officer position, now held by Deputy Ryan Finstrom, will continue to be funded for the current school year.
The county is paying $40,000 to maintain the position, while the Crawford AuSable School District is paying $27,000 for the officer.
"It's not going to be touched this year, but it is very unlikely that it will be there next year," Compo said.
County cuts will also force Wakefield to cut hours for two part-time corrections officers in the jail. The officers will be reassigned to serve as bailiffs and court officers.
"My biggest burden in the jail is the court system," Wakefield said. "If I don't have part-time people to fill in as court officers and bailiffs, I have to take my road patrol officers off the road and come in and sit in the courts. I don't like that. That's depriving the citizens of what I'm supposed to be giving them."
Wakefield said $35,000 in his budget, which will be used to purchase a patrol car and two digital cameras to take footage from the patrol cars, was saved from the budget ax. Crawford County Undersheriff Shawn Kraycs was successful in obtaining a grant through an insurance company to obtain two additional cameras for the patrol cars.
The cameras will replace VHS cameras, which were used in the patrol cars in the past.
"They are so old and antiquated, I can't get parts for them and I can't keep them repaired so we need to upgrade to digital," Wakefield said.
Compo said purchasing the squad car and cameras are the only capital expenditures included in the budget for the county. He said the cameras will cut down on expenses in the courts and prosecutor's office.
Crawford County Deputy on Leave, Faces Charges
Posted: May 03, 2012 1:23 PM CDT
Updated: May 10, 2012 1:23 PM CDT
9 and 10 News has confirmed a Crawford County Sheriff's Deputy is on leave from the department.
Roscommon County deputies are handling the investigation.
We're told Jason Alexander's leave stems from an incident on April 27.
Court records show that a warrant was issued for Alexander on April 30 for a domestic violence charge.
Alexander is scheduled to appear in court on May 14.
We will have more on this story for you tonight on 9&10 News.
Crawford County Deputy May Face Charges for Domestic Violence
Posted: May 14, 2012 4:33 PM CDT
Updated: May 21, 2012 4:33 PM CDT
A Crawford County deputy is facing charges of domestic violence.
The incident happened in Roscommon County's Lyon Township on April 27th.
The Crawford County sheriff has since put the deputy on unpaid leave.
Today, Jason Alexander pleaded not guilty to the charge.
His wife sent a friend a text message saying she was being assaulted by her husband.
If convicted, Alexander could spend up to 93 days in jail and/or pay a $500 fine.