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Beline Obeid
August 29, 2013
GROSSE POINTE SHORES — Public safety clerks are trickling in.

Their arrival signals the return of around-the-clock staffing of Grosse Pointe Shores public safety department headquarters while officers are on road patrol and responding to calls for service.

A handful of roughly 14 clerks, being hired are on the job at the public safety desk inside city hall.

“The clerks that have been hired are in the process of their training,” said John Schulte, public safety director. “Their training is being conducted on days and afternoons at the present time. As they’re trained, we’ll push them out to the three shifts.”

Although shifts of public safety officers cover the city 24 hours per day, headquarters hasn’t been manned during non-regular business hours since June 2011.

It was then, in an effort to save nearly $500,000 in response to declining housing values and consequent drops in municipal property tax revenue, the 24-hour-per-day dispatch department was shut down.

Duties were contracted through May 2014 to Grosse Pointe Farms.

Although that arrangement remains in place, with 911 emergency calls routed to the Farms for dispatching, many Shores residents missed having someone at city hall personally handle non-emergency telephone inquirers.

Proceeds from a 1 mil property tax rate increase this fiscal year fund the hirings.

Once clerks are trained, they’ll tour the community with public safety officers to get a lay of the land.

“We’ll take them to the Farms to meet their people,” said Mark Wollenweber, city manager.

Clerks will answer calls to the department’s non-emergency line, (313) 881-5500, not 911.

A phone tree is being developed to route non-emergency calls.

“The caller will have the first option of sending the call directly to the police dispatch center in Grosse Pointe Farms,” Schulte said.

“They’ll also have option for director of public safety, detective bureau, the court, administrative offices on the second floor. We’re not sending administrative calls to Grosse Pointe Farms.”

He said he hopes to have all the clerks and phone tree in place by Oct. 1.

The new system is expected to result in fewer calls to the Farms.

“We negotiated a substantial cut in our annual amount to Grosse Pointe Farms because of that,” Wollenweber said.

The revised annual fee is $75,000, down $17,500 from old fee of $92,500, according to Farms Manager Shane Reeside.

Shores officials intend to monitor clerk usage.

“We’re going to keep a daily sheet of walk-ins and calls so we can give the council a breakdown of exactly when and who is utilizing their services,” Schulte said.

New recruits

The Shores recently offered jobs to two public safety officers.

“Our two recruits started at the police academy Aug. 12,” Schulte said. “They’re going to go through 17 weeks of training. They will graduate Dec. 11. We will have them sworn in at the December meeting.”

New car

The department’s new cruiser is being prepared for service.

“The city mechanic is working on it,” Schulte said.

The car, a Ford Taurus, replaces a Crown Victoria, which is no longer produced in law enforcement versions.

The mechanic has the Taurus in the public works garage for installation of equipment that can’t be switched from the Crown Victoria.

“There’s some upgrades and sizing they’re going through,” Schulte said. “It’s about half done.”

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