St. Joseph County officers worry about department's future

By: Marcie Kobriger Email
By: Marcie Kobriger Email

St. Joseph County Police are warning the County Commissioners that their budget can't take any more hits.

They say more cuts down the road would jeopardize their safety, and the safety of people living in the county.

That's according to FOP members who met with commissioners today.

Their talks were supposed to be about wages, but with cuts across the board in all county departments discussion focused more on changes to health insurance, and the outlook for the department in years to come.

About a quarter of all county employees, including the police department will be affected by a health insurance change. According to commissioners it will save the county about $700,000 dollars this year.

That change will drop employee spouses from the plan, forcing them to ultimately pay more for health insurance. They won't be receiving any help to offset those costs; for the second year in a row, officers will not receive a raise from the county.

FOP members say and some commissioners worry that saving a buck now might hurt the police department in the long run.

"We're the laughing stock of hirers. Nobody wants to be a police officer in St. Joseph County. It's embarrassing," FOP President, Dean Chandler, says.

"If we can't pay somewhat near the market for patrol officers were going to have trouble attracting new officers. Why would you want to work for St. Joe County when you can get a job that pays greater or has greater benefits?" County Commissioner Mark Dobson worries about the department’s future.

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