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Daily News Editorial

By Staff | Aug 13, 2009

The Emmet Count Board of Supervisors should be lauded for its decision Tuesday to restore a deputy position in the sheriff’s department.

The department has been down one officer since Larry Lamack, former sheriff, retired March 31 after filling in for several months after retiring as sheriff at the end of last year. In an effort to keep down costs, the supervisors tried to go without filling the position after Lamack left.

However, a spate of crimes across Emmet County is showing how much the county needed to refill the deputy position. Sheriff Mike Martens applied for a grant to hire a deputy; however, the grant was not awarded.

In reviewing the need for refilling the deputy position Tuesday, the board agreed to go with a full-time replacement. In addition, with the probability of a retirement by the end of the year, the board is compiling a list of part-time qualified candidates to fill that position.

While no decision has yet been made, the board discussed the possibility of using county development dollars from the county’s share of the new extra penny sales tax to fund restoration of the deputy.

That’s an excellent use for the money. The reason we say that is that when a county can show it has low crime rates, the quality of life is greatly improved. That helps attract business and new people to the area which will in turn spur economic growth. It’s also a lot better idea than supplementing the budget.

Again, thanks go to the supervisors for making the right decision. Granted, there were discussions – even heated arguments – about whether to restore the deputy position. During supervisors meetings, statistics flew around the board room like pheasants in a freshly picked South Dakota cornfield in November, with some statistics showing the need to restore the deputy position and others to not replace it.

However, statistics alone don’t tell the whole story. While Emmet County is relatively sparsely populated, it has problems with thefts, drugs and drunk driving. You can argue statistics all you want, but if you base law enforcement entirely by the numbers, and if a county were small enough, theoretically there would be no law enforcement at all.

The citizens of Emmet County need and deserve quality law enforcement. Fortunately, the supervisors saw that need.