Gaines Twp. trustees rescind decision to disband police department

Gaines Township trustees voted Wednesday night to reinstate the townshipâ??s one-man police department after public outcry.

In a swift decision last month, trustees voted 3-2 to disband the police department after accepting the police chief's resignation during the same meeting.

Township Supervisor Chuck Melki called a special meeting Wednesday after the move sparked a flurry of questions from residents.

Community members asked trustees why they disbanded the department March 6 after previously approving the 2013-2014 budget which included Chief Mark Schmitzerâ??s $60,000 salary. Several residents also questioned who would ensure public safety in the township. Michigan State Police has been supporting the department since it was formed in 2000.

After hearing public comment trustees voted 3-2 to reinstate the department. Trustee Lee Purdy - who had voted with Clerk Michael Dowler and Treasurer Diane Hyrman in March to disband the department â?? voted with Supervisor Melki and Chuck Timmons to rescind the decision.

â??I'm glad that I convinced some of the trustees to reverse their decision,â?? Melki said. â??With the public support here, I think they understand how important it is for them and I think we can move forward and address any issues that we may have in upcoming years to make it a more solid police department."

Schmitzer, whose resignation would have been effective in June, agreed to stay at the police department.

In the meantime, Melki said the board will be looking into some options to strengthen the department, including a possible millage increase.