By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
MELVINDALE – A city council vote to use Dearborn’s police dispatch and jail was delayed until Feb. 7 so Dearborn’s city council can review the jail agreement before a Jan. 30 vote.
Fire Chief Joseph Murray said both the dispatch and jail agreement must be approved together, otherwise the Melvindale Police Department would need an officer on duty for either function.
Murray said the Dearborn jail has plenty of capacity, and can accommodate Melvindale’s prisoners even if construction of the jail at the new Allen Park Police Department is delayed.
“The issue just basically came down to a little bit of miscommunication between some of the council and some of the administrative staff over some type of information that they wanted to be provided with before they took a vote,” Murray said. “So instead of forcing a vote they just asked that it be tabled until the next meeting.”
He said one of the council members wanted statistics about the estimated number of prisoners and how costs are calculated.
“Ultimately this is a really good deal for both communities,” Murray said. “I am hopeful that it will pass both communities and we can continue on with the project. I think it makes a lot of sense and I am hopeful once the council receives all the information they will have the same opinion.”
Murray said a grant of $3.8 million from the state will reimburse Dearborn for the cost of the investment needed for the centralized dispatch.
“Melvindale is a willing participant but it needs to include provisions for their jail for it to make sense for them,” Murray said. “Both communities are working to accommodate something that is going to be a benefit to both communities.”
Melvindale Police Chief John Allen said if the merger is approved there will no longer be a police officer at the station, just an administrative staff person from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday. Other than that, the station will be closed.
Allen said there is a box with a keypad outside of the Police Department entrance so a resident can press a button and it will go right to Dearborn’s dispatch.
“It allows us not to have redundancy if someone is sitting inside,” Allen said. “Dearborn is doing all of that.”
Allen said last year Melvindale accommodated 420 people in its jail, but the facility is not used every calendar day. He said the majority of those are in and out, as is the case with a driver’s license suspension, in which the person is identified and they can post bond, or a person is under the influence of a substance.
“We are not going to overburden Dearborn with the amount of prisoners that we have,” Allen said.
He said Dearborn’s jail has adequate capacity, and they currently accommodate Allen Park prisoners as well as Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees.
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at [email protected].)