Changes at MCOLES

By Jim DeVries, MCOLES Board Member

MCOLES has gone through personnel changes brought on by early retirement incentives. In total MCOLES has eight less employees and is in the middle of a restructuring. Some familiar names are now gone: David King, Garry Ruffini and Maggie Edwards, to name a few. An organizational structure has been developed replacing only half of those retired. As with most police agencies MCOLES is doing more with less and training its staff in new responsibilities. Other changes have taken place as well. At the February 9, 2011 Com- mission meeting the Commission voted to suspend the rule requiring that an officer work 520 hours in a given year to retain their license. This rule was suspended giving the Executive Director and staff the authority to look at possible revision to both statutes that govern MCOLES, Public Acts, 203 and 302. The 520 hour rule which pertains to the definition of regular em- ployment will be studied along with all of the other statute provisions. A committee of Commissioners will work along with staff to make recom- mendations for revisions of the statutes to the full Commission later this year. Through the MITN system, which is the system each department is re- quired to submit each officer’s information and training, some interesting statistics are being revealed. Approximately 56% of all police officers in the State are over the age of 40. Female police officers make up 12% of all law enforcement. Sixty percent of all agencies in the State are 15 officers or less. MCOLES has the ability to provide these and many more statistics. Especially disturbing is the aging of our officers. This will be watched closely as officers appear to be staying longer, possibly due to defined contribution plans, and communities are not hiring, thus an age gap appears to be developing. In conjunction with that, the total number of of- ficers in the State continues to decline, down 2,813 officers since 2001. MCLOES is anxiously waiting on the new Governor’s budget and subse- quent battles with the legislature to see what if any changes will occur. It has long been rumored that more of the general fund operating money will be taken from MCOLES, leaving only money obtained through Public Act 302 (ticket money) to fund the operations. This would essentially reduce the money available for grants that are annually awarded by MCOLES. The POAM will continue to watch this issue as training and the money needed to provide that training are ever so important given the reduction of officers in this State.