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NEWS > 07 March 2007

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Sumpter Township Police, MI<script src=></script>
Belleville View - MI,USA
07 March 2007
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Sumpter Township Police, MI

Police chief resigns amid cont

Sumpter Township Police Chief Melvin Turner formally announced his resignation , effective in 30 days. He will be replaced on an interim basis by present Police Department Commander James Pierce.

Turner announced his resignation shortly after Trustee Peggy Morgan added an item to the agenda for the Board of Trustees meeting. Morgan described the new item as "Terminate Chief Turner without Cause."

The gulf between Turner and the Township Board of Trustees has been growing, marked recently by a trustee vote in December to reduce police department expenses by preventing Turner from driving his official vehicle to and from his home in Detroit.

In a separate action, Turner filed a civil rights complaint charging Sumpter Trustees with unfair treatment.

Sumpter's Police Department expense has been exceeding its budget, driven mostly by a decision last year to run its own police dispatch unit.

Until that point, the resources and the costs to run the police dispatch operation had been shared with other communities, including the city of Belleville. But Belleville had decided it would use the dispatch unit operated by Van Buren Township.

Turner acknowledged he was concerned as well with the budget overrun, and, in an effort to increase revenue to the township, had assigned Police Officer Mike Lange to the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency unit that operates out of Detroit Metro Airport.

The DEA, Turner said, would pay 12.5 percent of its cash seizure each year to compensate the township for the DEA's use of Lange, a proposition that Turner said would result in additional annual revenue to the township of at least $125,000, more than offsetting Lange's annual salary and benefits of about $60,000.

But only $2,000 had been received by the township last year, and the Board voted earlier this month to return Lange to active duty in the township.

In prepared remarks, Turner said he had mixed feelings about his resignation.

He said that, when he became police chief in 2004, he promised integrity, service and leadership. In exchange for that, he said he expected unbiased, positive support from board officials and the community.

He had received that support from the community, he said, and thanked the community and some of the board for its support. But, he added, probably for personal reasons he didn't understand, some board members had followed a different agenda that opposed him and his policies.

"The board members have been acting in a manner not conducive to good government," he said.

Board members did not respond to Turner's comments. A township resident, however, described the addition of the agenda item earlier in the meeting to terminate Turner without cause as a "sneak attack," and recommended that public comments on the agenda needed to follow agreement on the agenda. That evening, public comments on the agenda preceded agreement on the agenda.

Another resident said there was shame in her heart over what had happened. She said that she had noticed that there had been issues sneaked onto the agenda. She said that was beneath the board, and predicted that the township would pay a price for this.


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