Lansing and New Albin moving forward with plans to merge Police Departments

by B.J. Tomlinson

The Lansing and New Albin City Councils met in joint session at the New Albin Community Center Monday night, April 13 to consider a proposed contract between the towns to combine police departments. Both towns have experienced recent difficulty retaining officers.
The proposed plan would provide 25 hours of police protection for New Albin on a weekly basis. New Albin would pay $37,327 to the City of Lansing, which would allow the City to hire an additional full-time officer, and the City of Lansing would also purchase New Albin’s existing squad car and other equipment. Both towns would keep their office facilities and continue to provide extra coverage during special events.
According to information presented at Monday’s meeting, New Albin’s previous budget for police protection was $83,000, so the new arrangement would save that community around $45,000 annually. With the additional manpower, Lansing would be able to provide its officers days off and coverage for vacations and illnesses. A portion of the money New Albin saves would go into its police budget for future use.
Lansing Mayor Mike Brennan said the towns of Ossian and Calmar have a similar arrangement that works very well. The annual contract, which would go into effect July 1, 2015 and end June 30, 2016,  will be drafted by attorney Rick Zahasky. Both Councils plan to officially vote on the measure and sign the contract prior to July 1. Assuming the arrangement is successful, the contract will be renewed each year.
All Council members present, the two mayors and the several citizens in attendance expressed strong support for the proposal. A similar informational meeting will be held in Lansing Monday, April 20 at 6 p.m. at Kerndt Brothers Community Center.